Beth Mead believes being snubbed for last year’s Tokyo Olympics has made her a better player as she prepares to star for England at a home European Championship.
The Arsenal winger was an unexpected omission from the Team GB squad that was ultimately knocked out on penalties by Australia at the quarter-final stage in Japan in 2021.
However, Mead went on to have a fine individual season as the Gunners finished as runners-up in the WSL, scoring 11 times and laying on eight more. The 27-year-old is now in scintillating form as the Lionesses prepare to get their home Euro 2022 campaign underway against Austria on Wednesday.
Speaking ahead of the tournament opener at Old Trafford, Mead revealed that she felt her Olympic rejection had pushed her to a higher level.
“Obviously it was disappointing last summer, but would I be the player I am today if that didn’t happen? Maybe not,” she said.
“I’m enjoying my football, I’m really happy out there on the pitch, that is showing in my performances, and hopefully I can bring some of them into this summer’s Euros.”
Mead continued: “I know it’s only been a year but I think I’ve matured as a player.
“I think I’ve started maybe not to think about what other people think and concentrate on myself a little bit more.
“I’ve played with a lot more freedom this year and I think for me, when I play freely is when I play my best football. I don’t over-complicate anything. I make better decisions, and for me, this year has been a lot more free on a football pitch.”
Speaking about the threat England’s free-scoring frontline will pose this summer, Mead added: “I think we’ve got a lot of quality, a lot of different qualities.
“We’re pushing each other every day. We all bring something different to the table. And at the time, Sarina has got to make that decision of what fits best for what game.”