Leading the Lionesses: Mary Phillip on being England Women’s first black captain | Soccer News


In the last interview of Sky Sports News’ Leading the Lionesses series, former England captain Mary Phillip explains her professional journey, what it means to wear the armband and offers her advice to current skipper Leah Williamson.

Phillip was awarded the captain’s armband in 2003, making history by becoming the first black woman to captain England. She went on to earn 65 caps before retiring in 2008.

The former Arsenal and Fulham defender began her footballing journey with the Millwall Lionesses aged 12, before embarking on a career in which she won five Women’s Premier Leagues and seven FA Cups.

Phillip, who until 2011 was the only player to represent England in two World Cup teams, received her first call-up aged 18 in 1995 after just two training sessions with the team.

Now manager of Kent County League men’s team Peckham Town, Phillip speaks to Sky Sports News as part of the Lead the Lionesses series before the Euros this summer.

“Born and Raised in Peckham”

“I grew up in Peckham and did everything in Peckham. I was born and raised in Peckham.

“From there to my primary school, where we were given the opportunity to play girls-only football, while the boys wouldn’t let us play. It was fantastic, and everything grew and continued to grow from there. .”

Phillip on England’s ‘surprise’ first call-up

Mary Phillip with England

“I received a letter from the FA saying that I had been named in the England squad for the next World Cup. And that was a surprise because I had only attended a few training, and I’m now going to a World Cup.

“Just going there with the players that were there was amazing and seeing the requirements needed, the standards needed to be able to push and develop in that team, it was a great experience.”

The ‘honor’ of being England’s first black captain

“It wasn’t until a few years ago that I found out that I had become the first black female captain, years after being awarded the captaincy, and it’s a great honor to hold that.

“It’s something that always goes down in history. And long after I’m gone, my great-great-grandchildren will be able to see it looking back in women’s football and saying, ‘Hey, Mary Phillip, this’ is my grandmother, and she became England’s first black captain.

“Be able to go out there [as captain], give the messages and be able to lead and elevate the team and move us forward. You know, it’s a great experience to live.”

Phillip on his leadership style

Mary Phillip speaks to Sky Sports News

“Do what you can do, don’t try to do the impossible. If the options are there, play it the first time, play it the first time, don’t make it difficult for yourself.

“And I like to think that’s pretty much how I presented things when I played the game. Just go for it, and don’t try to do the impossible.”

Has the role of England captain changed?

“Your captain is something personal to you and how you are as a person. So it’s something that shows you there and what you want for your team.

“I don’t think the role itself has changed because a captain’s role is a captain’s role. It’s just the person who’s captain at the time, how they get on and how they rallies the team around her to ensure that the team gives the best possible performance.

“The modern England team would be nice to captain. But I can’t see how it would be any different to when I captained the team because I’m sure the girls all have the same drive and spirit. to go there, play, platform and get a result.

“And as long as you all want it and aim for the same thing, I think the results and the atmospheres would all be the same.”

Phillip’s advice to Leah Williamson

“Just be the player you are, that’s all you can do!”

England's Leah Williamson during a training session at St George's Park, Burton-upon-Trent.  Picture date: Tuesday May 31, 2022.
Leah Williamson will lead England as captain to the Euros for the first time at a major tournament

Follow Euro 2022 on Sky Sports

Catch up on all the latest Euro 2022 news on Sky Sports and Sky Sports News this summer.

Coverage will be anchored by Sky Sports WSL presenter Caroline Barker, alongside Jessica Creighton and Kyle Walker. Meanwhile, Karen Carney, Sue Smith, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and Laura Bassett will provide analysis throughout the tournament.

They will also be joined by experienced England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley and Manchester City defender Esme Morgan.

Pundits and presenters will work from the Sky Sports Women’s Euro 2022 mobile presentation bus, which will follow the Sky Sports News team around the country to the various stadiums where the matches are taking place.

Additionally, Sky Sports’ essential football podcast will be rebranded for the Sky Sports Women’s Euros Podcast Tournament from June 21. Hosted by Charlotte Marsh and Anton Toloui, it will feature exclusive news and player interviews in addition to a solid tournament programme.

Euro 2022: The groups…

Group A: England, Austria, Norway, Northern Ireland

Group B: Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland

Group C: Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, Switzerland

Group D: France, Italy, Belgium, Iceland

Euro 2022: The schedule…

Group stage

Wednesday July 6

Group A: England v Austria – Kick off 8pm, Old Trafford

Thursday July 7

Group A: Norway v Northern Ireland – kick off 8pm, St Mary’s

Friday July 8

Group B: Spain v Finland – Kick off 5.00pm, Stadium MK

Group B: Germany v Denmark – Kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium

Saturday July 9

Group C: Portugal vs Switzerland – kick off 5pm, Leigh Sports Village

Group C: Netherlands v Sweden – kick off 8pm, Bramall Lane

Sunday July 10

Group D: Belgium v ​​Iceland – Kick off 5.00pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium

Group D: France vs Italy – kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium

Monday July 11

Group A: Austria v Northern Ireland – kick off 5pm, St Mary’s

Group A: England v Norway – kick off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium

tuesday july 12

Group B: Denmark v Finland – Kick off 5.00pm, Stadium MK

Group B: Germany v Spain – Kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium

Wednesday July 13

Group C: Sweden v Switzerland – kick off 5pm, Bramall Lane

Group C: Netherlands v Portugal – kick off 8pm, Leigh Sports Village

Thursday July 14

Group D: Italy v Iceland – Kick off 5pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium

Group D: France vs Belgium – kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium

friday july 15

Group A: Northern Ireland v England – kick off 8pm St Mary’s

Group A: Austria v Norway – Kick off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium

Saturday July 16

Group B: Finland v Germany – Kick-off 8pm, Stadium MK

Group B: Denmark v Spain – Kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium

Sunday July 17

Group C: Switzerland v Netherlands – kick off 5pm, Bramall Lane

Group C: Sweden v Portugal – kick off 5pm, Leigh Sports Village

Monday July 18

Group D: Iceland vs France – kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium

Group D: Italy v Belgium – Kick off 8pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium

Knockout Stage


Wednesday July 20

Quarter-final 1: Winners Group A v Runners-up Group B – kick off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium

Thursday July 21

Quarter-Final 2: Group B Winners v Group A Runners-up 8pm, London Community Stadium

friday july 22

Quarter-final 3: Winners Group C v Runners-up Group D – kick-off 8pm, Leigh Sports Village

Quarter-Final 4: Winners Group D v Runners-up Group C – kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium


tuesday july 26

Semi-Final 1: Quarter-Final Winners 1 v Quarter-Final Winners 3 – Kick-off 8pm, Bramall Lane

Wednesday July 27

Semi-Final 2: Winner Quarter-Final 2 v Winner Quarter-Final 4 – Kick-off 8pm, Stadium MK


Sunday July 31

Winners Semi-Final 1 v Winners Semi-Final 2 – Kick-off 5pm, Wembley


Comments are closed.