Interview

The time is now

With the buzz of the Champions League back in north London and a EURO in England to look forward to, Arsenal centre-back Leah Williamson is riding the crest of a wave

INTERVIEW Seb Powell | PORTRAIT Pat Elmont

You recently captained England for the first time. How was it telling your parents on hearing the news?

I rang my mum. I knew she was driving with my grandma, so I just thought I’d kill two birds with one stone, and she just basically swore back down the phone to me for about 20 seconds, screaming. It’s nice. It’s not something that everybody’s going to get, and it’s not something you can set out to achieve. I just wanted to make sure they really enjoyed it. When you’re younger, everybody’s like, “Will you be England captain one day?” You never focus on it, but it’s probably really nice for them. When I texted my dad, he also responded with language that I can’t use. “Are you kidding me?” basically. It was cool.

What will it be like having the women’s EURO in England next summer? 

Probably my first England memory was going to watch the home EURO, last time we hosted [in 2005], and Karen Carney scored a last-minute winner at Man City’s stadium [against Finland]. The impact that had on me as a little girl... Back then you couldn’t watch that many games unless you went to see them, so the fact that we’re bringing it home again just shows how far football’s come in this country and how much of a spectacle it’s going to be. And also the interest… You start reaching all those little girls and also the older generation that maybe just hasn’t really [fallen in love with] or fell out of love with football – and they come back in again. Look at what the men’s EURO did, and we only hosted some of the games.


Who did you go to games with as a kid?

I used to go with my grandma and my mum. It’s always been very much a family affair. We always go in a large pack; it’s handy that we’re all Arsenal fans. If I can ever get up to England games with my dad, I still want to enjoy that with him, even though he’s Spurs…

Drop that in there! And you were once an Arsenal mascot, is that right?

Yeah, for West Brom away. I think I was nine or ten. We were on holiday in Devon and I got the call that I could be a mascot – because I was always a Junior Gunner as well. We left our holiday to drive to the game in West Brom from Devon, and then back down to continue afterwards. So the dedication was real.

Leah Williamson captained England in September 

You recently captained England for the first time. How was it telling your parents on hearing the news?

I rang my mum. I knew she was driving with my grandma, so I just thought I’d kill two birds with one stone, and she just basically swore back down the phone to me for about 20 seconds, screaming. It’s nice. It’s not something that everybody’s going to get, and it’s not something you can set out to achieve. I just wanted to make sure they really enjoyed it. When you’re younger, everybody’s like, “Will you be England captain one day?” You never focus on it, but it’s probably really nice for them. When I texted my dad, he also responded with language that I can’t use. “Are you kidding me?” basically. It was cool.

What will it be like having the women’s EURO in England next summer? 

Probably my first England memory was going to watch the home EURO, last time we hosted [in 2005], and Karen Carney scored a last-minute winner at Man City’s stadium [against Finland]. The impact that had on me as a little girl... Back then you couldn’t watch that many games unless you went to see them, so the fact that we’re bringing it home again just shows how far football’s come in this country and how much of a spectacle it’s going to be. And also the interest… You start reaching all those little girls and also the older generation that maybe just hasn’t really [fallen in love with] or fell out of love with football – and they come back in again. Look at what the men’s EURO did, and we only hosted some of the games.


Who did you go to games with as a kid?

I used to go with my grandma and my mum. It’s always been very much a family affair. We always go in a large pack; it’s handy that we’re all Arsenal fans. If I can ever get up to England games with my dad, I still want to enjoy that with him, even though he’s Spurs…

Drop that in there! And you were once an Arsenal mascot, is that right?

Yeah, for West Brom away. I think I was nine or ten. We were on holiday in Devon and I got the call that I could be a mascot – because I was always a Junior Gunner as well. We left our holiday to drive to the game in West Brom from Devon, and then back down to continue afterwards. So the dedication was real.

Leah Williamson captained England in September 

Read the full story
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I’m from Devon, so I know that’s not a nice drive.

Yeah, it probably hurt my dad to be honest, because he got nothing out of the experience, whereas we at least got to go to the game.

What do you like most about London right now?

I enjoy the diversity and I think young people are really sort of free, at the minute, to be what they want to be and who they want to be. That’s why I love being in London, because there’s no limit to what you want to achieve professionally and to being successful. And the levels of culture that you can expose yourself to going into the city are really cool.

Are we right in thinking that you are the Arsenal dressing room DJ?

I am. Well, we share the role but yeah, I have been. At the minute we’re throwing it back a little bit; there are a couple of old school tunes that we’re liking. Absolutely Everybody by Vanessa [Amorosi]; that’s a big tune for us at the minute. And Tell Me Something Good, the remix. 

Is it true that your grandad had a Top 40 hit?

He did! He was in a band called The Good Time Losers. It’s called Trafalgar Square. I’ve got it on vinyl. It’s pretty cool, actually. If I put it on in the changing room I actually think it would be a banger, but I don’t know. Sometimes the role of being a DJ is to cater to everybody else’s needs. Maybe after we get a big win, I’ll sort of drip-feed it in because I think it could be a real anthem for the team. He supported Pink Floyd once, so I’m like: “This is the guy. This is the guy.”

Back to the football. How important are the changes to the Women’s Champions League this season, with the new group stage?

This needed to happen. Before you could be in and out like that, whereas now at least there’s a group stage and the exposure for the women’s game. Getting to play in those high-quality games – and six of them just in the group stage – is really important for us and for the growth of the women’s game.

You recently captained England for the first time. How was it telling your parents on hearing the news?

I rang my mum. I knew she was driving with my grandma, so I just thought I’d kill two birds with one stone, and she just basically swore back down the phone to me for about 20 seconds, screaming. It’s nice. It’s not something that everybody’s going to get, and it’s not something you can set out to achieve. I just wanted to make sure they really enjoyed it. When you’re younger, everybody’s like, “Will you be England captain one day?” You never focus on it, but it’s probably really nice for them. When I texted my dad, he also responded with language that I can’t use. “Are you kidding me?” basically. It was cool.

What will it be like having the women’s EURO in England next summer? 

Probably my first England memory was going to watch the home EURO, last time we hosted [in 2005], and Karen Carney scored a last-minute winner at Man City’s stadium [against Finland]. The impact that had on me as a little girl... Back then you couldn’t watch that many games unless you went to see them, so the fact that we’re bringing it home again just shows how far football’s come in this country and how much of a spectacle it’s going to be. And also the interest… You start reaching all those little girls and also the older generation that maybe just hasn’t really [fallen in love with] or fell out of love with football – and they come back in again. Look at what the men’s EURO did, and we only hosted some of the games.


Who did you go to games with as a kid?

I used to go with my grandma and my mum. It’s always been very much a family affair. We always go in a large pack; it’s handy that we’re all Arsenal fans. If I can ever get up to England games with my dad, I still want to enjoy that with him, even though he’s Spurs…

Drop that in there! And you were once an Arsenal mascot, is that right?

Yeah, for West Brom away. I think I was nine or ten. We were on holiday in Devon and I got the call that I could be a mascot – because I was always a Junior Gunner as well. We left our holiday to drive to the game in West Brom from Devon, and then back down to continue afterwards. So the dedication was real.

Leah Williamson captained England in September 

The time is now
Interview

The time is now

With the buzz of the Champions League back in north London and a EURO in England to look forward to, Arsenal centre-back Leah Williamson is riding the crest of a wave

INTERVIEW Seb Powell | PORTRAIT Pat Elmont

You recently captained England for the first time. How was it telling your parents on hearing the news?

I rang my mum. I knew she was driving with my grandma, so I just thought I’d kill two birds with one stone, and she just basically swore back down the phone to me for about 20 seconds, screaming. It’s nice. It’s not something that everybody’s going to get, and it’s not something you can set out to achieve. I just wanted to make sure they really enjoyed it. When you’re younger, everybody’s like, “Will you be England captain one day?” You never focus on it, but it’s probably really nice for them. When I texted my dad, he also responded with language that I can’t use. “Are you kidding me?” basically. It was cool.

What will it be like having the women’s EURO in England next summer? 

Probably my first England memory was going to watch the home EURO, last time we hosted [in 2005], and Karen Carney scored a last-minute winner at Man City’s stadium [against Finland]. The impact that had on me as a little girl... Back then you couldn’t watch that many games unless you went to see them, so the fact that we’re bringing it home again just shows how far football’s come in this country and how much of a spectacle it’s going to be. And also the interest… You start reaching all those little girls and also the older generation that maybe just hasn’t really [fallen in love with] or fell out of love with football – and they come back in again. Look at what the men’s EURO did, and we only hosted some of the games.


Who did you go to games with as a kid?

I used to go with my grandma and my mum. It’s always been very much a family affair. We always go in a large pack; it’s handy that we’re all Arsenal fans. If I can ever get up to England games with my dad, I still want to enjoy that with him, even though he’s Spurs…

Drop that in there! And you were once an Arsenal mascot, is that right?

Yeah, for West Brom away. I think I was nine or ten. We were on holiday in Devon and I got the call that I could be a mascot – because I was always a Junior Gunner as well. We left our holiday to drive to the game in West Brom from Devon, and then back down to continue afterwards. So the dedication was real.

Leah Williamson captained England in September 

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

You recently captained England for the first time. How was it telling your parents on hearing the news?

I rang my mum. I knew she was driving with my grandma, so I just thought I’d kill two birds with one stone, and she just basically swore back down the phone to me for about 20 seconds, screaming. It’s nice. It’s not something that everybody’s going to get, and it’s not something you can set out to achieve. I just wanted to make sure they really enjoyed it. When you’re younger, everybody’s like, “Will you be England captain one day?” You never focus on it, but it’s probably really nice for them. When I texted my dad, he also responded with language that I can’t use. “Are you kidding me?” basically. It was cool.

What will it be like having the women’s EURO in England next summer? 

Probably my first England memory was going to watch the home EURO, last time we hosted [in 2005], and Karen Carney scored a last-minute winner at Man City’s stadium [against Finland]. The impact that had on me as a little girl... Back then you couldn’t watch that many games unless you went to see them, so the fact that we’re bringing it home again just shows how far football’s come in this country and how much of a spectacle it’s going to be. And also the interest… You start reaching all those little girls and also the older generation that maybe just hasn’t really [fallen in love with] or fell out of love with football – and they come back in again. Look at what the men’s EURO did, and we only hosted some of the games.


Who did you go to games with as a kid?

I used to go with my grandma and my mum. It’s always been very much a family affair. We always go in a large pack; it’s handy that we’re all Arsenal fans. If I can ever get up to England games with my dad, I still want to enjoy that with him, even though he’s Spurs…

Drop that in there! And you were once an Arsenal mascot, is that right?

Yeah, for West Brom away. I think I was nine or ten. We were on holiday in Devon and I got the call that I could be a mascot – because I was always a Junior Gunner as well. We left our holiday to drive to the game in West Brom from Devon, and then back down to continue afterwards. So the dedication was real.

Leah Williamson captained England in September 

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

I’m from Devon, so I know that’s not a nice drive.

Yeah, it probably hurt my dad to be honest, because he got nothing out of the experience, whereas we at least got to go to the game.

What do you like most about London right now?

I enjoy the diversity and I think young people are really sort of free, at the minute, to be what they want to be and who they want to be. That’s why I love being in London, because there’s no limit to what you want to achieve professionally and to being successful. And the levels of culture that you can expose yourself to going into the city are really cool.

Are we right in thinking that you are the Arsenal dressing room DJ?

I am. Well, we share the role but yeah, I have been. At the minute we’re throwing it back a little bit; there are a couple of old school tunes that we’re liking. Absolutely Everybody by Vanessa [Amorosi]; that’s a big tune for us at the minute. And Tell Me Something Good, the remix. 

Is it true that your grandad had a Top 40 hit?

He did! He was in a band called The Good Time Losers. It’s called Trafalgar Square. I’ve got it on vinyl. It’s pretty cool, actually. If I put it on in the changing room I actually think it would be a banger, but I don’t know. Sometimes the role of being a DJ is to cater to everybody else’s needs. Maybe after we get a big win, I’ll sort of drip-feed it in because I think it could be a real anthem for the team. He supported Pink Floyd once, so I’m like: “This is the guy. This is the guy.”

Back to the football. How important are the changes to the Women’s Champions League this season, with the new group stage?

This needed to happen. Before you could be in and out like that, whereas now at least there’s a group stage and the exposure for the women’s game. Getting to play in those high-quality games – and six of them just in the group stage – is really important for us and for the growth of the women’s game.

You recently captained England for the first time. How was it telling your parents on hearing the news?

I rang my mum. I knew she was driving with my grandma, so I just thought I’d kill two birds with one stone, and she just basically swore back down the phone to me for about 20 seconds, screaming. It’s nice. It’s not something that everybody’s going to get, and it’s not something you can set out to achieve. I just wanted to make sure they really enjoyed it. When you’re younger, everybody’s like, “Will you be England captain one day?” You never focus on it, but it’s probably really nice for them. When I texted my dad, he also responded with language that I can’t use. “Are you kidding me?” basically. It was cool.

What will it be like having the women’s EURO in England next summer? 

Probably my first England memory was going to watch the home EURO, last time we hosted [in 2005], and Karen Carney scored a last-minute winner at Man City’s stadium [against Finland]. The impact that had on me as a little girl... Back then you couldn’t watch that many games unless you went to see them, so the fact that we’re bringing it home again just shows how far football’s come in this country and how much of a spectacle it’s going to be. And also the interest… You start reaching all those little girls and also the older generation that maybe just hasn’t really [fallen in love with] or fell out of love with football – and they come back in again. Look at what the men’s EURO did, and we only hosted some of the games.


Who did you go to games with as a kid?

I used to go with my grandma and my mum. It’s always been very much a family affair. We always go in a large pack; it’s handy that we’re all Arsenal fans. If I can ever get up to England games with my dad, I still want to enjoy that with him, even though he’s Spurs…

Drop that in there! And you were once an Arsenal mascot, is that right?

Yeah, for West Brom away. I think I was nine or ten. We were on holiday in Devon and I got the call that I could be a mascot – because I was always a Junior Gunner as well. We left our holiday to drive to the game in West Brom from Devon, and then back down to continue afterwards. So the dedication was real.

Leah Williamson captained England in September 

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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