Beth Mead: England's superstar who idolises her mum

Beth Mead holds BBC Women's Footballer of the Year award
Beth Mead succeeds Arsenal team-mate Vivianne Miedema as BBC Women's Footballer of the Year

Beth Mead has gone from not being selected for the Olympics to England superstar and household name in just 12 months.

The Arsenal forward's year has seen her break records and light up Euro 2022 and the 27-year-old can now add BBC Women's Footballer of the Year 2022 to her extensive list of accolades.

After winning the award, Mead spoke to BBC Sport to reflect on a whirlwind 12 months - from the highs of winning Euro 2022 to a difficult year off the pitch for her family, and her reaction to that photo caption from the Ballon d'Or award ceremony which went viral.

'A crazy but amazing month'

Beth Mead holds the match ball after scoring a hat-trick against Norway
Beth Mead scored a hat-trick in England's record-breaking 8-0 win over Norway at Euro 2022

Mead bounced back from the disappointment of not being selected to represent Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics a year earlier by becoming the Golden Boot winner and player of the tournament at Euro 2022 as hosts England lifted their first trophy at a major women's tournament. The Lionesses beat eight-time champions Germany 2-1 in extra time in the final at Wembley.

"The final was an interesting day. I think there was a lot of nerves from the girls, getting food that morning and at lunchtime was pretty hard for us all.

"Such a big occasion at Wembley, so many people coming and, I mean, it's a final of a European Championships so yeah it was a nervous day.

"But when we got into the stadium, when we got out and started warming up, that's our safe and happy place. Throughout the tournament people saw how much we just enjoyed being out there representing our country and playing in front of our family, friends and fans.

"It was just a dream day. After the final whistle, not a lot of us knew what to do. There was obviously a sense of relief that we'd done it, we'd worked so hard and been away from family for nine weeks.

"I think we were all running left, right and centre, I don't think we knew what to do.

England players celebrate after the final whistle at Wembley
A record crowd of 87,192 watched England's win over Germany at Wembley

"I don't quite think we understood what we did at the time, [but] when we've sat back, reflected, it's sunk in a little bit more but still to this day, there are a lot of us who still feel like it's a surreal feeling.

"We were just trying to just take the moment in. We were so shocked at what had happened and you dream of it, but when it actually happens, I don't think there's a guidebook to tell you how to react or how to be so for us we were just trying to soak in as much of it as we could.

"To get that moment after so much disappointment over the last few years in other tournaments, I think it's a feeling that we'll hold on to for a long time.

"It was a crazy but amazing month, the whole process, the tournament itself, every single game, the noise from the fans, how many people were there.

"We had the belief, we knew we had the capabilities to go and win it, but saying it out loud was something that we were never going to do, because you shouldn't say it until you do it - and this time we did."

'My mum is my biggest motivation'

Beth Mead celebrates with family after winning Euro 2022

While the England forward was enjoying the best year of her career on the pitch, her family was enduring a tough year off it after her mum was diagnosed with cancer in 2021.

"At the end of the day, I've just been playing football while she's been battling one of the hardest diseases that is known to anyone, so my biggest motivation and biggest moment [of the year] is just my mum, my mum in general.

"The strength that my mum off the pitch has given me - it's been a difficult year for my family and for her individually - so she has been incredible.

"It was amazing to get the trophies and celebrate in front of all the fans but for me I couldn't wait to get round the stadium to then get to my mum, dad and brother and cherish and share that moment with them.

"Yes this summer was amazing, but there's been a lot that's gone before that and credit to my family, they supported me and got me to where I am today.

Sunderland Ladies Beth Mead runs towards family members to celebrate after scoring the winning goal in injury time during the WSL 1 match between Sunderland Ladies and Notts County
Beth Mead celebrating scoring for Sunderland with her family, who have been a big part of her footballing journey

"Growing up I was not great at coming out of my comfort zone, moving forward and trying to develop - I was very lucky that I had family that pushed me and supported me in those decisions.

"I would say to [my younger self] 'look at where you are now, look how much you're enjoying your football, look what you're doing, so it was all worthwhile for what you went through.'

'I saw funny side of Ballon d'Or slip-up'

Mead was runner-up to Barcelona's Alexia Putellas for this year's Women's Ballon d'Or, awarded to the best best female footballer of 2022. But, after attending the ceremony in October with girlfriend and fellow Ballon d'Or nominee Vivianne Miedema, it was a photo of the pair on the red carpet that sparked huge social media reaction as the caption described the photo as Miedema and her "guest".

"Luckily for them, I find the funny side of it - I was Viv's 'guest' so she got a good joke out of that one.

"In all seriousness, I think it still shows that the women's game's got to move to the next level. The fact that someone who's coming second in the Ballon d'Or is getting called a guest probably isn't ideal.

"But I found the funny side of it so no hard feelings to whoever put that one out there."