Bethany England's Diary | FIFA Womens' World Cup 2023

Bethany England reflects on the Women's World Cup 2023

We had the pleasure of catching up with Tottenham Hotspur’s newly elected Captain and renowned England lioness, Bethany England. Bethany takes you on her FIFA Women’s World Cup journey, documenting the highs and the lows as she reflects on her first ever World Cup debut.   

Week commencing 19th June – the final weeks before leaving for the World Cup

The weeks leading up to the World Cup are the exciting part, we did two weeks of training at St George’s Park before we set off on our travels – these were quite intense weeks as you’re trying to gain the maximum amount of fitness leading into tournament football. As always, we held open training days and were able to meet some fans too who wished us good luck.

Being back in that environment was amazing for me, it was hard not being part of the national team for so long, so to be back there with the girls playing again felt amazing. The first week was finished and so came the weekend off. I’d managed to secure Pink tickets at Hyde Park, so my friends and I headed to the concert. We danced the night away as though it was our last chance of freedom for a while!

During the second week leading up to our departure, the training sessions ramped up and everything became MUCH harder. This is when you know things are starting to get serious. Once again, we were given the final weekend off before we headed for Australia – this time I hosted a BBQ at my house as a little going away party. As excited as I was to finally be heading off to my first ever World Cup, I was also extremely sad to be leaving behind my dogs. Buddy (age 4) and Dilys (age 2 and a half) are my favourite things in the world, and this was about to be the longest time I’d ever spent away from them.

Week commencing 3rd July – landing in Australia and seeing the sights

Bethany England - 3rd July

Our first two weeks in Australia were spent at the beautiful Sunshine Coast. We stayed at a wonderful resort with kangaroos literally right outside our hotel rooms! The beach was a 5-minute walk away which was great. We’d also been able to experience some amazing parts of Australia – we went whale watching, visited the Steve Irwin Zoo and a bunch of other cool things.

Week commencing 17th July – our first game of the tournament

We then headed to Brisbane to prepare for our opening game against Haiti. When we got to the hotel we were surrounded by staff and fans wishing us all the best for the tournament ahead. The hotel was in the centre of Brisbane so during downtime we were able to explore the city a little, most of the girls would go get their nails done or do their usual hunt for the best coffee shops.

All the prep had now been done, training was complete, and everyone was ready going into the first game. Some nerves started to kick in as we arrived at the stadium and before every game, Jess and I walk out on to the pitch to take a pre-game selfie.

Sitting on the bench during that match was a hard watch. We’d be given a penalty, we missed, it was re-taken, then we scored – which was probably the biggest highlight of the game, on top of Mary making an amazing last-minute save of course! Haiti gave us a good game and battled right to the end. However, we won the game 1-0 which was a great start to our World Cup journey.

Week commencing 24th July – playing against Denmark and making my World Cup debut

Bethany England - 24th July

We moved to Adelaide and got ready for our second game against Denmark this time. The mood around the team was good and everyone was looking forward to the game. We were also welcomed with a ceremony from the Aboriginal people of the land, who made us feel very welcomed into their homeland culture.

As always this was a must win game to achieve topping the group. The team started the game very strong dominating full possession and chances, then Lauren James rocked up with a wonderful goal. Denmark grew into the game more during the second half and with around 20 minutes left to play I was called upon. I was about to make my senior World Cup debut at a major tournament! I was filled with nerves and excitement – to the point where Jess Carter actually had to calm me down whilst I was going through the set pieces.

We won the game 1-0 and all I remember is walking around the pitch after the game, clapping the fans with Jess and Alex Greenwood, and I was smiling so hard because I’d finally got my first minutes and a chance to play. My debut was also nearly topped off with a goal from a Rachel Daly cross, but my header went just ajar of the post. Unfortunately, one of our key players, Kiera Walsh, injured herself in the first half and had to come off. However, I was so happy for Laura Coombs to also make her World Cup debut too!

Week commencing 31st July – my family flew over to watch our third game

Bethany England - 31st July

I was extremely excited for the China game. This was the first game my family had flown out to watch. I had my mum, sister, fiancé, and her best friend at the match!

It was a smaller stadium than the previous ones we’d played in, and it was at full capacity. The noise was electric, and it was mainly the Chinese fans chanting. We’d gotten off to a great start with goals from Alessia Russo, Lauren Hemp and Lauren James but unfortunately a disallowed goal was called for James’s second goal of the game. China was also given a penalty and that was the first goal we’d conceded. The game was topped off with two more goals from Lauren James and Chloe Kelly to seal a 6-1 victory. What made this game even more special was that I came on in the 70th minute, and my family were able to watch me play. Being able to see them all after the game meant everything to me, especially my fiancé Steph as I’d missed her a lot.

From this game we knew we’d topped the group which meant we would then face Nigeria in the Round of 16. The mood around camp again was still very positive with players coming into good form and multiple goal scorers. After China’s game there were more World Cup debuts and people getting minutes, which really helps to boost morale in the team.

Week commencing 7th August – Beating Nigeria and Columbia and celebrating Steph’s birthday

Bethany England - 7th August

Where do I begin for these two games…

Nigeria was probably the pinnacle of my career. It was a very hard-fought game from the team, especially after going down to 10 players which meant my chance arose to come on the pitch. I came on for the last 15 minutes of extra time and the game resulted in us going to penalties, at which point I scored my first goal at the World Cup! This helped our team beat Nigeria 4-2 on penalties and get through the Round of 16 and then into the quarter finals against Columbia.

As I said previously the noise in the China game was electric, but that was hugely overshadowed by the noise of the Columbian fans. It was by far the best atmosphere I’ve ever experienced at a game. From the sound of their national anthem to every chant in between the final whistle, the noise just didn’t stop. We won the game 1-0. It was a very close one, but we were all elated about getting into the semi-finals.

My family were there for both games and what made the Columbia game so special is that it was Steph’s birthday and I got to see her. That morning Jess came with me into the city centre of Sydney to buy her a last-minute birthday present. Luckily, she liked her present and surprise on the day.

Steph and her friend were meant to fly home after the Nigeria game, but they wanted to stay out longer so I helped them change their flights. I was sad that my mum and sister were flying home the next day though. Luckily, I’d been able to spend some time with them away from the pitch.

At this point, we were about halfway through the tournament, and it felt like a lifetime had passed since we’d left St George’s Park. It’s around this point where I started to feel a little home sick and I was missing the dogs more than ever. I couldn’t wait to get home, but I was also soaking up every moment of being at the other side of the world, about to play in a World Cup semi-final and live out my biggest dream!

16th August – a feisty semi-final against Australia

Bethany England - 16th August

It’s finally here, the week of the semi-final and we were up against Australia, the hosts of the tournament. There were big expectations riding on the Australia team with them being the hosts, but also on us to knock them out of the chance to go to the final.

It was certainly an exciting game from the get-go being a little feistier than the previous ones. Ella Toone got us off to a great start with a wonderful top bin strike. Later in the game the inevitable Sam Kerr scored a wonderful goal to level the scores.

The biggest highlight for me, as a sub, was when we went to warm up behind the goal and we were getting so much abuse shouted at us by the Australian fans. If anything, it was comical, and you just had to laugh at it. Esme, another sub, said if we scored, she would sprint down the line behind the goal celebrating in front of their fans. Low and behold Lauren Hemp scored the first goal and Esme was off. A woman of her word, she celebrated hard in front of their fans, no doubt attracting more abuse. The game was very tight but, in the end, we prevailed with goals coming from Ella, Lauren and Alessia. A 3-1 victory to send us straight into the WORLD CUP FINAL!!!

20th August – my dream had finally come true; I was playing in the World Cup Final

Bethany England - 20th August

Here it is, World Cup final day. The day every little girl or boy dreams of playing when they’re just a kid. The biggest stage of all is set – England v Spain, two of the favourites in the competition going head-to-head. We knew this was going to be the toughest game of them all, Spain is exceptionally good at keeping the ball and being a dominant possession-based team.

In the first half Lauren Hemp hit the crossbar with a great chance to nearly put us in the lead. However, Spain scored first, and we go down 1-0. We changed our tactics and went out into the second half raring to go. I came on in the last 10 minutes, trying to impact the game in any way I could. It was one of the last kicks of the game and Lauren Hemp hit a cross into the box. I was so close, but I couldn’t make contact unfortunately. The referee blew the full-time whistle, and it was over; Spain had won the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.

We were overcome with sadness and a lot of tears. We’d worked so hard and come so close as a group but failed at the final hurdle. It hurt a lot and the group evidently looked defeated. As the winner’s ceremony took place, we all collected our 2nd place medals and stood to watch Spain lift the trophy.

Although we lost, this was still such a special day for me. We were second best in the world! I got to play in a World Cup final representing my country and one of the best parts was that my family were there to witness it. As mentioned, my family flew home after the Columbia game. And after many discussions, my mum, Steph, and her friend all flew back out for the weekend to watch the final, as it’s not something they wanted to miss. They flew Friday evening, landed Saturday evening, watched the game Sunday, and then flew back Monday afternoon. 46 hours in the air and only 41 hours on land, all to be with me on that final day! Words can’t describe the true feelings that day, but I’m very fortunate to have had them there with me and for them to experience the final.

Week commencing 21st August – home time and exciting things to come

Bethany England - 21st August

The first thing I did after getting home was hoover my house, it sounds crazy but it’s true! Steph was travelling back from Wales as she had to go and collect our dogs from her parents, so I was home alone and figured why not clean until they’re home. I love to clean, and it brought me back to reality very quickly.

After being reunited with my dogs later that day I headed up to my hometown, Barnsley, to get my hair done. After such a long time away, my roots were in need of a touch up! That morning I had the pleasure of calling into ZenAuto’s head office to catch up with the team and discuss all things football and cars, it was a pleasure as always.

And then unfortunately, instead of going away on holiday to chill out after the World Cup whirlwind, I had to undergo numerous scans as I had an issue with my hip. This resulted in me having to undergo hip surgery. This has obviously put me back a few months before I can return to the pitch with my team. Amongst all the sad news however, I was made club captain of Tottenham as well as changing my shirt number from 19 to the number 9, so it’s not all doom and gloom! My goal for the next few months is to rehab well and get myself back fighting on the pitch once again.

Looking back on my summer, I had the experience of a lifetime with such an amazing group of players, staff members, and all the people we got to meet along the way. As well as sharing special memories with my family. Women’s football is forever growing and developing and to be able to say that I’m part of the generational change and impact on women’s sport is HUGE. From winning the Euros the year before to second best in the world this year, we will continue working hard to pave the way for not only women in football, but women in all sports.


Loved reading all about Bethany’s World Cup adventure? We recently interviewed her to find out exactly how she got to be the influential, driven female footballer that she is today. Bethany also shares how her shiny Xc60 helps her keep up with her demanding football schedule. Go on, grab a brew and have a read through!

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