England striker Ellen White has announced her retirement from the sport, saying it’s time to hand over to the “next generation” after helping the Lionesses to incredible success this year.
White, 33, departs as the women’s national team’s all-time highest goalscorer after plundering 52 across a 12-year career, during which time she made 113 appearances. Her time in the side included finishing third at the 2015 World Cup and triumphing at Euro 2022 less than a month ago, where she was England’s starting number nine.
At club level she leaves Manchester City women after a three-year stay, having won the FA Women’s League Cup last season and the Women’s FA Cup with them in 2020.
“This has been one of the hardest decisions of my life, but one that I know is the right decision for me,” said White in a lengthy message posted to Twitter.
“This decision has always been one I have wanted to make on my terms. And this is my time to say goodbye to football and watch the next generation shine.
“It has been my greatest honour and privilege to play this game. In particular, playing for England has and always will be the greatest gift.
“My dreams came true on 31 July, winning the Euros and becoming a European champion.”
In explaining her timing, White said that she hoped the characteristics she showed on the pitch would help to inspire the future stars of the national team, some of whom were ready to push on and become key players now in their own right.
She also reiterated the calls from the Lionesses after their Euro 2022 triumph to ensure girls of all ages had access and encouragement to follow their sporting ambitions.
“This is for the next generation and potentially the next Lionesses,” said White.
“You don’t have to be the best at something to make your dreams come true – just look at me.
“Hard work, dedication, passion and love for what you do are a great recipe. Don’t ever let someone tell you ‘you can’t do something or achieve your dreams’. I was once told I couldn’t play in the boys’ team and I would never play for England. Now I am retiring having made 113 caps with 52 goals for England and a European champion.
“Finally, let’s use the momentum from the Euros win to make sure that every young person in all communities has the opportunity to play and feel connected to all England football teams.”
England manager Sarina Wiegman paid tribute to the striker, hailing her influence both on and off the pitch.
“Ellen has given so much for England and we are all so proud of her,” said Wiegman.
“I have had the pleasure of working with her for only this past year, but her professionalism, workrate and finishing ability are world class.
“This summer she did an amazing job for the team. She is the perfect team player and helped the younger players to find their way in international football. I already knew she was a great player, but I found an even better person. We will miss her, but I fully understand her decision to take a new direction.”
White’s club career started with Chelsea after she came through the academy system at Arsenal, where she returned as a senior after two years with Leeds. Notts County and Birmingham were also among her clubs before she ended up at Manchester City in 2019, scoring 15 in her most prolific WSL campaign in 2017-18.
Along with her England caps, White represented Great Britain at the London Olympics of 2012 and the Tokyo Olympics of 2020, scoring six in eight for Team GB.