Leah Williamson

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Leah Williamson
Leah Williamson 20191016.jpg
Williamson with Arsenal in 2019
Personal information
Full name Leah Cathrine Williamson[1]
Date of birth (1997-03-29) 29 March 1997 (age 25)
Place of birth Milton Keynes, England
Height 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)[2]
Position(s) Midfielder, Centre back
Club information
Current team
Number 6
Youth career
2003–2006 Rushden & Diamonds
2006–2013 Arsenal
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2014– Arsenal 120 (7)
National team
2011 England U15 1 (0)
2012–2013 England U17 16 (2)
2014–2016 England U19 15 (6)
2014 England U20 3 (0)
2014–2018 England U23 6 (0)
2018– England 27 (2)
2021– Great Britain 3 (0)
*Club domestic league appearances and goals, correct as of 16 April 2022
‡ National team caps and goals, correct as of 23 February 2022

Leah Cathrine Williamson (born 29 March 1997) is an English women's football player who currently plays for Arsenal of the FA WSL and captains the England national team. A versatile player, she started playing as a midfielder before moving to central defence after a managerial change. She has played for her only domestic football club since 2014 as a senior player.

Club career[edit]

Rushden & Diamonds[edit]

Williamson joined Rushden & Diamonds Centre of Excellence at the age of 6. On that period, Williamson said, "My coach at the time left to go to Arsenal. I went across with her and had a couple of trials and luckily they took me on and I never looked back from there. So I owe it all to my coach from when I was 9."[3]


Williamson joined Arsenal's Centre of Excellence in 2006 at the age of nine.[4]


Williamson made her senior team debut when she came on as an 81st-minute substitution for Rachel Yankey in Arsenal's 0–2 defeat to Birmingham City in the UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-final.[5] She made her FA WSL debut on 16 April against Notts County.[6] She won her first major title, the 2014 FA Women's Cup with Arsenal on 1 June in the final against Everton, in which she came on as a 76th-minute substitute for Jade Bailey.[7] On 13 July, Williamson netted her first professional goal for Arsenal in a 4–0 win away against Millwall Lionesses in the League Cup.[8] On 4 September, she scored her first league goal against Chelsea.[9] She made 12 appearances in the 2014 FA Women's Super League. Williamson played in the 2014 League Cup final against Man City which Arsenal lost 1–0.[10] At the end of the 2014 season, she was named the League Cup Player of the Year, ahead of Jess Clarke from Notts County, Ji So-yun from Chelsea and Toni Duggan from Manchester City.[11]


On 8 January, Williamson won the England Women's Youth Player of the Year award.[12] Before the start of the 2015 FA Women's Super League, on 31 March, Williamson signed her first professional contract with Arsenal.[13] On 26 April, she was named the 2014–15 PFA Young Women's Player of the Year.[14] Williamson scored her first goal of the season in a convincing 3–0 home victory over Watford in the League Cup on 23 July.[15] Williamson was a key figure in the club's victorious League Cup campaign, after the quarter final win over holders Man City, who had beaten Arsenal in the final, Williamson said, "I think Arsenal as a football club have won a lot of trophies in the past and we wanted to keep winning silverware for the club. Even with the younger players in the squad we all thought we have got to win, the morale was certainly high before the game. Last year’s final was always in the back of our mind and we know how good a side City can be. After going 1–0 up it was all about defending which we managed to do and it was a great result for us. I think we can win the cup as we have won it three times but we have to keep on focusing on the next game."[16]


Williamson helped her team reach the final of the FA Cup of 2016 where Arsenal eventually won by a 1–0 margin over Chelsea.[17]


Williamson was ever present in the 2017–18 FA WSL Cup as Arsenal ended as Champions beating the defending champions, Man City in the final. Arsenal's league campaign was more disappointing with Arsenal missing out a top 2 finish and Champions League qualification for the sixth consecutive edition of the WSL. She started the season in midfield but switched to central defence with the arrival of new manager, Joe Montemurro in December 2017. On her change of position, Williamson said, "I’m not sure in the long term and I never want to shut the door on either position, because I know I can do both. But I’m enjoying playing as a centre back with the way we play. Under Joe we want to play out from the back and that suits my qualities. At the minute I am enjoying playing at centre half, but I’m open minded about what the future holds."[18] Towards the end of the season, Williamson reflected on the season since Montemurro took over, "I feel like since Joe came in we’re back on a journey again, we had lost that a little bit. Despite today, I feel like we’re building something. But pretty much every game we have played since around November has been a must win game and that takes its toll emotionally. In every single game we have known no less than a win will do, in the league and in the cups."[19]


On 14 October 2018, Arsenal laid down a huge marker in their title challenge with a 5–0 thrashing of champions Chelsea, inflicting a first home defeat on the champions since July 2016. Williamson said, "This result means everything, regardless of league standings, we want to be the Arsenal of old, the Arsenal that everyone doesn’t want to play." As a die hard Arsenal fan, the win meant a lot to Williamson. "I said to Mitch [Emma Mitchell] as we were walking over, as an Arsenal supporter I hope that they feel it, that I feel exactly what they’re feeling watching this game. First and foremost I’m a supporter of this football club."[20] Joe Montemurro began utilizing Williamson on the right of a back 3 and after a 4–0 win at Bristol City on 28 October, in which Williamson assisted Jordan Nobbs for one of the goals, he said, "Leah’s really adapting to a bit more of a pro-active defending methodology. She’s got a bit of freedom to go forward and I’m really enjoying working with her. She’s getting the rewards for the amazing work that she’s put in over pre-season and the season so far, so all credit to her."[21] Arsenal won their first 9 games and went into the match with Man City 6 points clear of their title rivals. By the time Arsenal faced Man City on 2 December, their injury crisis was such that they were forced to start 17 year old Paige Bailey Gayle in an injury hit team that lost 2–0 to a brace by Georgia Stanway. Two games later, a 2–1 home defeat to Chelsea which happened to be Williamson's 100th Arsenal appearance allowed Man City to move a point clear albeit having played one game more. On the injury situation, Williamson said, "Obviously injuries are a factor and everyone can see we’re down to the bare bones at the moment and it was before Christmas. But genuinely, we are not a team that makes excuses and it’s not something we’re talking about. We are focusing more on how to get the ball from A to B, for example." On the achievement of reaching 100 appearances at the age of just 21. Williamson added, "It’s funny, I was just talking to my mum and we said I could have done it much more quickly were it not for injuries. Naturally, I am always striving for more. In our meeting room at the training ground, the names of all the women who have made 100 appearances are on the wall and I look at some of the names on that wall and, without being too much of a fan girl, a lot of them are my heroes. It’s amazing to be up there now in their company. But it’s about the future for me too and the first 100 is amazing and especially at my age, I really do aim to get a few hundred more yet with this football club and in this shirt. This is more than just a football club to me. My family are all Arsenal supporters and they remind me every day that I am living a dream to play here and I hope that I have made them proud. Important day for me and them, I just wish we could have won".[22]

On 23 February, Arsenal attempted to defend their title in the FA WSL Continental Cup but after 120 goalless minutes, Man City won 4–2 on penalties. On Williamson, Joe Montemurro said, "For a girl of her age to show the maturity and the ability to understand the game, the way she positions herself- her positioning is like a 30 year old pro. She always finds the pass, she’s unbelievable. She has all the attributes to be an amazing footballer and an amazing centre-back on the world scale and England should be very excited about the prospect of her going to a World Cup with them. We love having her at Arsenal."[23] On the cup final defeat, Williamson said. "That gives you a good idea of the character and resilience of this team. But also we’ve got players that know what it means to be Arsenal and we’ve got new players that already know what that means. Today we maybe didn’t play the Arsenal way, but that character is what it takes to play for a top team to take a game as far as you can, to fight and when it comes to the league, that’s exactly what we will do. We’re pissed off now and we’ve only got one target to focus on and we’ll give it every thing we’ve got."[24] Back in the league, Arsenal won 3 games in a row, scoring 10 goals while conceding none after the Chelsea defeat before an away tie with Liverpool on 24 March which Arsenal won 5–1 on a terrible pitch. England manager, Phil Neville was present and while watching Williamson ahead of the world cup said, "This girl is a star. You get some players who are born to captain England. She’s a leader. She’s only 22, and she comes into the squad and acts like a 30-year-old."[25] Arsenal won another four games in a row to clinch the title with a 4–0 defeat of Brighton at the Falmer Stadium on 28 April. As a childhood Arsenal fan it meant the world to her and she said, "I came here when I was 9 and we were winning the league every year and it was all I ever wanted, to win the league with Arsenal. I guess I thought I would walk into the team one day and it would just happen. But the game has developed so much and the competition is so fierce, to win that out there is absolutely unbelievable. I thought it might come sooner, but the wait has made it sweeter." On the injuries Arsenal suffered throughout the season, Williamson said, "That makes today even greater, because we’ve had a crazy season with injuries. It’s easy to forget that when the trophy is in the cabinet. It’s easy to forget that at one stage we were down to ten senior outfield players. Those two defeats [to City and Chelsea either side of Christmas] was during the readjustment period. But losing those two games was probably good for us in the long run because we knew there was no room for error, so we’ve played every game like a cup final. I do just wish we could have played that City game more towards the start of the season when we were on a great run playing unbelievable football. A lot of teams would crumble in those circumstances but we didn’t." Williamson was typically modest in her own performance in the title clinching match, "I think that might be the worst I’ve ever played for the club and it’s because of how much this game and this title means to me. That’s something I’ll learn from, but I won’t apologise for feeling that way."[26] In the title winning season, the most common passing duo was Williamson to Lisa Evans (centre half to right wing back),[27] Williamson also finished the season as Arsenal's most active player on the ball with 1,501 touches to her name, as well as completing the most successful passes in the opposition’s half (591). She also made more interceptions than any other player in Arsenal's squad (30).[28]


On 13 September 2020 Williamson netted her first goal of the season in Arsenal's 9–1 victory over fellow London side West Ham United.

On 18 November 2020 Williamson made her 150th appearance in all competitions for Arsenal against Tottenham Hotspur in the Continental Cup a game which Arsenal would draw 2–2 but go on to win 5–4 on penalties.


On 16 June 2021 Arsenal announced that Williamson had signed a new one year contract with the club until the end of the 2021–22 season.[29]

Just seven months later, in January 2022, she agreed a prolonged contract with the club. Arsenal did not disclose the duration of the new commitment, but coach Jonas Eidevall stated that Leah Williamson is "a player for us to build Arsenal around".[30]

International career[edit]

Williamson with England in 2018

Youth levels[edit]

Williamson has represented England since 2010 at youth levels, currently playing in the under-23 squad. She captained the England under 17 side in the 2014 UEFA Women's Under-17 Championship held in England in November and December 2013, where they eventually finished fourth after being beaten by Italy in the third place play-off, losing 3–4 in the penalty shootout.[31][32] She was also part of the England women's national under-20 football team to compete in the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Canada in August 2014. Williamson started in the starting lineup in every England's match. The tournament, however, was a disappointment for the team as they were not able to progress through to the quarter finals, finishing third in their group with only two draws against South Korea and Mexico respectively, and a defeat to Nigeria.[33]

Penalty situation against Norway[edit]

On 9 April 2015, Williamson scored a penalty for her team in a qualifying match against Norway for the 2015 UEFA under-19 championship, which had been ordered to be retaken five days after the original contest. In an unprecedented decision,[34] UEFA had ordered the match to be restarted from the 96th minute.

Previously, on 4 April, Williamson's successful penalty for England was disallowed for player encroachment (by substitute Rosella Ayane, who had won the penalty and scored a goal in her brief cameo from the bench). The laws of the game state that in such a situation, the penalty should be retaken, but the German referee, Marija Kurtes instead awarded Norway a free kick. After protests from the England camp, the European governing body agreed that the match should be replayed from the time of the incident.[35]

The players returned to finish the last two minutes of their match after each had played what was scheduled to be their last qualifying matches for the tournament. With the scores standing at 2–1 to Norway, Williamson equalised and, in doing so, booked her team's place in the tournament finals.

Senior team[edit]

In November 2017, Williamson was called up the senior England squad.[36] She made her debut for the senior team with six minutes left in a 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifier against Russia in the team's 3–1 win.[37] Williamson was part of the squad who won a 2–0 victory over Denmark at Banks’s Stadium in Walsall for one of their final friendly preparation matches for the World Cup.[38]

Williamson was involved in the England squad that won in the 2019 SheBelieves Cup in USA, playing the final game, a 3–0 win over Japan.[39]

In May 2019, Ian Wright announced on social media that Williamson had been selected for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup squad and would be on the plane to France.[40] On being selected for the squad, Williamson said, "After the World Cup in Canada four years ago that’s what I set my sights on and all I’ve ever wanted to do is be a part of this team. I can’t be more thankful because I think I’m the luckiest girl in the world."[41] Williamson made her World Cup debut from the bench in the Round of 16 match against Cameroon on 23 June 2019 in Valenciennes.[42]

Williamson scored her first England goal, an 86th-minute winner, in a 3–2 friendly win against the Czech Republic on 12 November 2019.[43]

On 17 September 2021, Williamson was named England captain for the FIFA World Cup qualifier against North Macedonia at St Mary's Stadium, Southampton.

On the 5th of April 2022, prior to the 2022 Euros, Williamson was announced as the permanent England captain.

Personal life[edit]

Williamson grew up in Milton Keynes and lived close to the town's stadium.[44][45] She attended Ousedale School in Newport Pagnell for secondary education. She comes from an Arsenal-supporting family and is a lifelong Arsenal fan.[46][40] In 2006, she was selected as the mascot to the Arsenal men's team in a league cup match at the Hawthorns against West Brom.[47]

She is training to be an accountant.[48] After watching long jumper Greg Rutherford, who also comes from Milton Keynes, at the 2012 Summer Olympics she briefly considered switching her athletic focus to track and field as she had previously participated in some local competitions and wished to become an Olympic athlete.[49]

Her best friend in football is international teammate and Man City midfielder Keira Walsh, they have gone through all the junior ranks together and received their first senior call up on the same day in 2017. Williamson said, "It’s the first thing you do, you check for your name on the list and then you check for Keira’s". Walsh added, "Nobody I would rather have shared this journey with".[50]

Career statistics[edit]


As of 15 April 2022.[51]
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League FA Cup[a] League Cup[b] Europe[c] Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Arsenal 2014 FA WSL 13 1 4 0 7 1 1 0 25 2
2015 7 0 2 0 3 1 12 1
2016 8 0 3 0 0 0 11 0
2017 7 0 7 0
2017–18 17 1 2 0 7 0 26 1
2018–19 19 1 2 0 6 1 27 2
2019–20 15 1 2 0 6 1 4 0 27 2
2020–21 20 1 1 0 3 0 24 1
2021–22 14 2 1 0 1 0 7 1 23 3
Career total 120 7 17 0 33 4 12 1 182 12


Statistics accurate as of match played 23 February 2022.
Year England Great Britain
Apps Goals Apps Goals
2018 4 0 N/A
2019 10 1 N/A
2020 3 0 N/A
2021 7 1 3 0
2022 3 0 N/A
Total 27 2 3 0

International goals[edit]

As of match played 26 October 2021. England score listed first, score column indicates score after each Williamson goal.
International goals by date, venue, opponent, score, result and competition
No. Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition Ref.
1 12 November 2019 Stadion Střelecký ostrov, České Budějovice, Czech Republic  Czech Republic 3–2 3–2 Friendly [43]
2 26 October 2021 Daugava Stadium, Liepāja, Latvia  Latvia 8–0 10–0 2023 FIFA World Cup qualification [52]








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External links[edit]