Rachel Daly: Meet the former Leeds United player set to star in England's Euro 2022 final

Former Leeds United player Rachel Daly has started every game on the Lionesses’ journey to the final.

Thursday, 28th July 2022, 5:06 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th July 2022, 5:06 pm

Like many stars of the women’s game, Daly’s first forays into football were with her local boys’ team, Killinghall Nomads in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

The Nomads eventually formed a girls’ side which Daly joined aged 12, before being invited to attend the Leeds United centre of excellence.

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It was a huge moment of pride for Daly – who comes from a family of loyal Whites supporters – and an important career step, as Daly earned her first international call-up while developing with United.

Daly was part of the Leeds Carnegie squad who beat Everton 3-1 in the 2010 League Cup final to lift the last piece of silverware earned by the Whites.

Following a season playing for WSL side Lincoln Ladies, Daly made the decision to study in the United States, where she has been playing football ever since.

Upon graduating, Daly was the sixth pick of the National Women’s Soccer League draft of her cohort, and was selected by Houston Dash.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 15: Rachel Daly of England in action during the UEFA Women's Euro England 2022 group A match between Northern Ireland and England at St Mary's Stadium on July 15, 2022 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

The North Yorkshire lass won her first senior England cap in June 2016, scoring a debut goal in a 7-0 European Championship qualifying win over Serbia.

After helping her team progress to the finals, though, Daly was not included in Mark Sampson’s squad for the tournament the following summer.

She was brought back into the fold by former England boss Phil Neville, who selected Daly for the 2018 SheBelieves cup and put her on the plane for the 2019 World Cup, when the Lionesses lost out to USA in the semi-finals.

Now in her eighth season with the Dash, Daly wears the armband for the Texas club and is an established, experienced member of the England squad.

ROCHDALE, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 11: Leeds Carnegie players celebrate after victory in the FA Tesco Women�s Premier League Cup Final between Everton and Leeds Carnegie at Spotland Stadium on February 11, 2010 in Rochdale, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

In September, Daly’s father Martyn died suddenly and just days later, she stepped off the bench during the Lionesses’ 10-0 World Cup qualifying victory over Luxembourg to net a goal, which she dedicated to her father.

She has since inked a permanent tribute to her Leeds-loving father.

“It says, ‘at least until the world stops going round,’” Daly explained.

"It is obviously part of ‘Marching On Together’ and the song was played at my dad’s funeral and it is the mantra that me and my brother have adopted.

LEEDS, ENGLAND - JUNE 24: Rachel Daly and Millie Bright of England applauds their fans after the final whistle of the Women's International friendly match between England and Netherlands at Elland Road on June 24, 2022 in Leeds, United Kingdom. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

“It is pretty self-explanatory, ‘we will stay with you forever, at least until the world stops going round’. So, yeah, it is a little more special touch.”

The 30-year-old is capable in a range of positions; comfortable both leading the line and in a defensive role, Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman has deployed Daly in a left-back position this tournament, despite the fact that there are a number of left-footed defenders available for selection.

Spain attacker Athenea del Castillo gave Daly a torrid time in England’s comeback quarter-final victory and, though a rushed challenge by Daly led to their opponents’ taking the lead in the crucial knockout tie, Wiegman continued to show her faith in the left-back, who gave a commanding semi-final performance against Sweden and looks a likely candidate for Wiegman’s starting eleven at Wembley on Sunday.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 06: Rachel Daly of England battles for possession with Julia Hickelsberger-Fuller of Austria during the UEFA Women's Euro England 2022 group A match between England and Austria at Old Trafford on July 06, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)