England striker Beth Meade says football is her “safe space” against off-pitch challenges and she uses it to bounce back from depression.
Meade, who was left out of Team Britain’s Olympic squad last year, is the joint-top scorer at Euro 2022 ahead of Sunday’s final against Germany.
A first major tournament and the prospect of winning the Golden Boot are not taken for granted by Mid.
“Football is my safe space, a place where I can escape sometimes,” he said.
“Probably watching me play football, everything was fine because everything was going well. I struggled off the pitch this year.
“I had a lot of support around me who helped me. I guess I used my football to get rid of the emotions off the pitch. »
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After scoring a hat-trick at Wembley in a win over Northern Ireland and a win over Latvia in November, he scored four goals in a 10–0 World Cup qualifying win over North Macedonia in April.
Meade currently tops the Euro 2022 goalscoring charts with Germany’s Alexandra Popp with six goals and three assists in five starts.
“Last year I got frustrated a lot and wanted to play better, but that’s easy to do. You want to go out there and do your best, but sometimes things don’t always go well,” Mead said.
“I was putting a lot of pressure on myself and thinking a lot about a lot of things. Enjoying and playing freely was the most important thing that helped me this year. »
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“It became easier to talk to each other”
Mead previously said playing “angry” and having the fire in his belly helped him get back into shape.
But the prolific winger no longer thinks he has to be.
“I don’t get angry anymore. I have channeled my energy properly and have been able to put it more consistently on the pitch,” he added.
As the British team competed at the Olympics, Mid followed the England men at Euro 2020 and took advice from the former Lioness during the finals.
“Obviously, that’s the point where I was a little disappointed. They just told me to keep my head down, work hard and enjoy the game again,” Mead said.
“It’s something I’ve done this season. I feel better from this suggestion. »
The culture Wigman fostered in the English camp helped Mead’s “safe space” thrive.
“When we talk to each other, it’s because we want the best in everyone. In the past, maybe we took it a little bit personally, but now we know it’s for the greater cause of the team,” Mead said.
“The situation is much better since Sarina’s arrival. We did things off the field that made us feel more comfortable with each other.
“We really have confidence in what we say and it doesn’t go any further. It became easier to talk to each other. »
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“I would have loved to have been in the men’s final.”
England were set to face Germany in the final after beating Sweden 4-0 in the semi-finals, but Mead said it “didn’t feel real” until days later.
It was the perfect way to cap off what he described as “a great year of growth.”
“It’s been a journey but to be here, to take part in the Euros, it’s a dream come true for me with the disappointment of last year,” he added.
“Playing for your country is special but also in front of your family and friends – the people who mean the most to you and who have been there in good times and bad. »
Meade admitted he didn’t think he would make it to the Euro finals himself as he watched the men lose to Italy in their penalty shootout last year.
“I loved the final, the atmosphere was crazy. It was a night I’ll remember for a long time,” Mead said.
“I didn’t think a year later I would be playing in a final for my country at Wembley, but dreams can come true.
“I really hope we can make those memories. »