Georgia Stanway became a national hero for her role in England women’s Euro 2022 triumph but believes she is all the better for a move away from her homeland heading into the World Cup later this month.
Just four days after defeating many of her club teammates in front of 87,000 at Wembley as England beat Germany 2-1, Stanway jetted out accompanied only by four suitcases for a new life with Bayern Munich.
The 24-year-old’s German may still not be up to standard, but on the pitch she has thrived, helping Bayern to the Frauen-Bundesliga title and the quarter-finals of last season’s Champions League.
Stanway is not the only member of the Lionesses squad that has spread her wings to learn new ways on the continent.
Lucy Bronze and Keira Walsh both won the Champions League in their first season with Barcelona.
And she believes that will only make England stronger as they aim to be crowned world champions for the first time.
“You kind of develop as an individual. Me going to Germany I’ve developed so much on and off the pitch,” said Stanway. “On the pitch I’ve got so much more responsibility. I have like a leadership role which I never expected to happen in such a short space of time.
“In terms of the way I am as a person I’m just so much more open. I went to a country where no one knew who I was and I’d never met anyone. I could be whoever I wanted to be and no one was going to judge me for that. I think that’s so important in a football environment to just be you.”
Stanway’s versatility has seen her used in various roles by England boss Sarina Wiegman, but she is determined to maintain her standards so she is no longer shifted out of her preferred role alongside Walsh in central midfield.
“I’ve been consistent in my performances in the position I’m playing in which I’ve been able to make my own and that only helps me when I come into his environment,” she added.
“I need to play well in my midfield position because I don’t want to go anywhere else.”
– ‘Turning point’ –
Stanway’s blistering strike that won a tense Euro 2022 quarter-final in extra-time 12 months ago shot her to fame.
For much of that evening in Brighton, England chased Spanish shadows and trailed until Ella Toone levelled six minutes from time.
Stanway then fired into the top corner from outside the box to complete the comeback in what she sees as a seminal moment in the history of the Lionesses after so many near misses at previous major tournaments.
“Not only because I scored it. If anyone else had scored it I would think it was a really turning point for the Lionesses,” said the former Manchester City midfielder. “We’d gone 1-0 down, Spain basically had the whole of the football the whole game and we found a way to win.”
Next came a demolition of Sweden in the semi-finals before extra-time was needed once more to get the better of Stanway’s foes turned friends Germany.
The two sides could well meet again in the quarter-finals at the World Cup if all goes to plan down under.
But Stanway is not planning on dishing out any insider information to Wiegman on her club teammates, even if she might ignore them for a few days.
“To be fair Sarina probably knows everything already. She probably knows more than me. She’s a genius that way.
“I think we could meet them in the quarters if things go to plan. That could be interesting. I’ll probably have to stay off my phone that week.”