A year ago Beth Mead was snubbed by England’s interim boss Hege Riise and left out of the Great Britain squad for the Olympic Games – now she has scored four goals in a World Cup qualifying match and is seemingly making herself undroppable for the home Euros in the summer.
Her four goals in a 10-0 thrashing of North Macedonia on Friday took England to within touching distance of qualification for the 2023 World Cup.
It is also the third time in their qualifying campaign Mead has scored at least three goals in a match.
With the Euros kicking off at Old Trafford on 6 July, Mead’s prolific goalscoring form has put her in a strong position for selection.
“I’m just really enjoying my football right now. It’s been free-flowing from myself and the team. We’re creating opportunities for each other and taking them at the moment,” said Mead.
“Just playing for England is an honour so to score for my country and get a win for them is a dream come true. I’m here to help the team by playing the best football I can.”
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The Arsenal forward could not have started the season any stronger when she netted twice at the Emirates Stadium in front of England boss Sarina Wiegman to pick up a 3-2 win over title rivals Chelsea.
Her impressive form would continue for Arsenal and was translated onto the international stage in October when Mead scored a second-half hat-trick in 14 minutes against Northern Ireland at Wembley Stadium.
Another treble against Latvia followed in November, before Mead’s latest haul against North Macedonia took her overall tally in qualifying to 12 goals, while she also has nine assists to her name.
Could she have imagined scoring back-to-back hat-tricks for England a year ago as she watched on from home having been left out of the squad?
“I probably never thought I would have scored a hat-trick in all these qualifiers,” Mead admitted.
“I just channelled my disappointment in the correct way. It’s motivated me this season to do more on and off the pitch. I’m enjoying my football and hopefully that’s showing.
“I’m a confident player. The England team I’m a part of is an amazing one. We’re creating a lot of chances and I’m lucky enough to get on the end of them.”
Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright said Mead is a player who “always contributes” for club and country because she gets into good positions.
“The thing with Beth is that she’s always going to be in the box. She’s a massive goal threat against any calibre of team,” he told ITV.
“She’s been doing that all season for Arsenal and for England. A player of her calibre – in some of those qualifying games – she is going to score those goals. But she always contributes.”
Aston Villa defender Anita Asante added: “She’s hungry to score goals. She’s always committed to her run – she doesn’t stop and she’s there to follow in.”
‘We’re playing really good football’
Mead’s impressive performances have coincided with a strong unbeaten run by England, who are yet to lose a game under new manager Wiegman.
They have scored 63 goals without reply in World Cup qualifying, lifted the inaugural Arnold Clark Cup trophy in February and appear in confident mood before the summer’s Euros.
“We’re playing really good football. You’re only as good as the team in front of you but we still have to break them down and beat them,” said Mead.
“The football we’re playing is exciting to watch. We’re playing some good stuff together – we’ve got it right on and off the pitch. We are all contributing and as a collective it’s really showing.”
England’s latest victory was the fourth time they have scored double figures under Wiegman and she said she was “impressed” with how they created opportunities.
“We had to make the game and tried to get tempo. [North Macedonia] tried to take it out from the first minute,” said Wiegman.
“We scored 10 and that’s good. It’s a good win, this is what we want. I’m impressed with how we scored – it doesn’t matter who scores them. We scored 10 but it’s the timing of the runs [that is important].”