On the face of it, Millie Bright looks on a mission. A mission of redemption toward FIFA Women’s World Cup glory.
As England begin their quest in Australia and New Zealand on Saturday, hopes are high both home and abroad.
Twelve months on from being crowned European champions at Wembley, the Lionesses take the roar Down Under.
Set to stand-in for the injured Leah Williamson, can Bright inspire her side to World Cup glory?
World Cup woe
Before the Lionesses became a truly elite force in the women’s game, their journey was laced with heartache.
Winding back the clock four years ago to the last World Cup in France, it was Bright who suffered semi-final ignominy.
Sent off against the United States, the Lionesses fell short of the final against the eventual victors – who themselves seek history with the Three-peat in 2023.
Though a bitter pill for the defender, the experience was evidently character-building.
Centre-back partner to Williamson last summer, Bright was an essential cog in Sarina Wiegman’s victorious squad.
Now with her own shot at leading her country into battle, Bright is built for the big stage.
A late recruit
A World Cup is the pinnacle for any player, be it the men’s or women’s game.
However, football was not always the Bright path.
Indeed, growing up in the Derbyshire countryside, Bright was more familiar with the leather of a horse’s saddle than a football.
Switching her literal goals at nine-years-old, Bright was scouted by Sheffield United and moved to Doncaster Belles at 16.
Having made the to switch Chelsea in 2015, three league titles followed – including the WSL this season. The captain’s armband was then a formality.
Boots to fill
Losing skipper Williamson to an ACL injury is a huge blow to England, but Bright can be an able deputy.
Stepping in for her stricken teammate is a tall task, but surrounded by the wealth of talent that England possess, the European champions are well-set.
A fulcrum of the international picture since 2016, the Chesterfield native has proved her leadership skills in qualifying for this stage; now it’s for real.
Whilst the group stages should be a mere exercise in qualification for England, as the knockouts rolls on, Bright’s captaincy may then be tested.
For a need to avoid a pun, the Lionesses’ prospects this summer/winter in Australia and New Zealand, are gleaming.
The Lionesses are 4/1 with 888sport to win the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.