GET ready to go football crazy once again this summer and roar England to World Cup glory.
Last year the country was captivated as our boys made it to the semi-finals before losing to Croatia.
15 England players celebrate in the dressing room after reaching the semi-final at the World Cup in Canada four years agoCredit: Twitter
15 Toni Duggan enjoys a break in Dubai
Now it’s the women’s turn — and they are determined to go one better and bring the trophy home.
The World Cup — featuring 24 teams — kicks off in France tomorrow, with England playing their first game against Scotland on Sunday in Nice.
Right now the players are hardly household names in their own home towns.
15 Leah Williamson is a hit on Instagram with over 100,000 followers
15 Demi Stokes soaks up some rays
But if they manage to lift the World Cup in Lyon on July 7 they will be as well-known as the Boys of ’66.
Here, Mike Ridley and Amy Jones give you the lowdown on some of the England Lionesses hoping to become the pride of the nation.
15 Defender Steph, 31, plays for Man City
Her place as captain was revealed in a video by Prince William.
And while Steph is hoping to lead the team to glory, she faces an even tougher fight off the pitch.
Her husband, ex-Bolton player Stephen Darby, 30, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease soon after their wedding last June.
15 Goalie Karen, 34, plays for Man CityCredit: Rex Features
Californian Karen did not play in England until she was 28 – but with footie-mad parents from Stockport she always dreamed of appearing for the Lionesses.Karen Carney
15 Midfielder Karen, 31, plays for ChelseaCredit: Rex Features
Has regained her place after injury.
Karen has struggled with depression, but she says: “We want to inspire people to get through dark places and come through it.”Jill Scott
15 Midfielder Jill, 32, plays for Man CityCredit: Rex Features
Jill was taunted for her love of football.
She recalls: “I used to get a lot of stick. It was hard, but I always felt like I was meant to play football and no one was going to stop me.”Ellen White
15 Striker Ellen, 30, plays for Man CityCredit: Rex Features
Named England player of the year in 2018, Ellen sent her husband Callum to collect the award as she was on skipper Steph Houghton’s hen do.Jodie Taylor
15 Striker Jodie, 33, plays for Reign FCCredit: Rex Features
Plays in the US and insists England are in it to win it.
She says: “We came third at the last World Cup – but now we’re at another level of belief.”Nikita Parris
15 Striker Nikita, 25, plays for LyonCredit: Rex Features
Brilliant goalscorer quit Man City to sign for the European champions Lyon this summer.
Nikita runs a footie academy for teenagers in her native Liverpool.Leah Williamson
15 Defender Leah, 22, plays for ArsenalCredit: Rex Features
Leah’s glamorous lifestyle and luxury holidays are a hit with her 109k Instagram followers, but she’s raring to take part in her first World Cup.Demi Stokes
15 Defender Demi, 27, plays for Man CityCredit: Rex Features
At primary school she played in both the girls’ and boys’ teams.
She says: “I captained the boys’ team in my last year . . . that was interesting.”Lucy Bronze
15 Defender Lucy, 27, plays for LyonCredit: Rex Features
Aged 11 she was banned from her boys’ team and had to train with Sunderland, 45 miles from home.
She says: “That was hard, I was really shy.”Toni Duggan
15 Striker Toni, 27, plays for Barcelona
As a girl Toni was bullied for playing football with the boys – but last year she became the first English player to join Barcelona since Gary Lineker.
Game’s come so far
By Karren Brady
THIS World Cup is a big moment for women’s football – and it’s time for fans to roar on the Lionesses so they know all of England is behind them.
When I first got involved in running a football club there were women’s teams, but it was seen as a community, pop and crisps-type operation.
Now there are 30million young girls participating and new competitions, like the Women’s Super League.
Many of the World Cup matches will be on the BBC, and tickets for the opening match, semi-finals and final sold out within 48 hours.
What has driven this explosion of interest? I think it is the professional competition.
The emergence of the Super League in 2011 brought a proper structure, proper payments for the players and proper facilities.
Certainly in the Super League women are seeing football as a proper career, a full-time job.
Fifa has increased the World Cup prize money to a £30million prize fund. The men, however, will get £440million to spread among them in Qatar in 2022.
But equality is coming, with Norway and New Zealand paying their male and female players the same.
And female players are great role models for women in relation to health, ambition and diet.
So join me in cheering on England’s football stars – just like you did Harry Kane and Co last summer.
England Lionesses squad named for Women’s World Cup