Ella Toone wants to achieve Champions League qualification with Manchester United and establish herself as an England starter in what promises to be a huge season for the growing star.
Already one of the best players in the WSL after a 2021/22 campaign that saw her step into a leading role for a United side in transition, Toone became a household name in the summer thanks to her game-changing performances off the bench at Euro 2022.
Having jointly led the WSL in assists last season, Toone scored crucial England goals in the Euro quarter-final and final en-route to England’s historic triumph.
But with United again falling short in their hunt for Champions League football and a World Cup on the horizon for England, Toone has clear goals that she wants to achieve.
“My focus is this season and that’s with Manchester United and England. I just want to keep improving as a player and a person, get more goals and assists under my belt for the club and help us achieve a Champions League spot,” she said.
“For England, it’s about keep pushing myself, hopefully try and get a place in that starting XI. I’ve always said it, the main thing is trying to keep improving every single day.”
On both fronts, she has already made a good start. United have just hammered Reading 4-0 on the opening weekend of the WSL season, while Toone started twice for England in the final two World Cup qualifiers earlier this month - the first Lionesses matches since Euro 2022.
Ultimately, Toone is finding the balance between dealing with the pressure that she puts on herself to achieve things, but also ensuring that she still enjoys herself in the moment – something she believes ultimately makes her play better.
“I feel pressure from myself. I don’t feel pressure from other people,” the 23-year-old explained.
“I’ve got good people around me and people just want us to do well and, for me, just to go out there and enjoy it. But I’m really hard on myself as a person and so I want to be 100% all the time and do everything right. The only pressure sometimes I feel is the one that I’ve put on myself.
“My advice to my younger self would be to make sure that I enjoy it. I think growing up I did put pressure on myself and didn’t enjoy it as much as I should and I know now that when I enjoy it, I play better. And also just to be confident and believe in yourself.
“I like to say that I’m a hardworking player who just wants to be brave and get on the ball, play with that bit of freedom, find pockets of space to make something happen, whether it’s a goal or assist. I want to say that I play exciting football. I play my best football when I’m enjoying it so the people around me always help me when I step out onto the pitch.
“As I’ve grown older, the people who inspire me are my family and everything I do now is to repay them for everything they sacrificed for me.”
Ella Toone is a brand ambassador for WOW HYDRATE and was speaking to two-time Olympic gold medallist Victoria Pendleton in Manchester.