KATHRYN BATTE: Beth Mead is odds-on favourite to win SPOTY and deservedly so after her goals fired England to Euro glory… 2022 has not been without struggles for the Arsenal star but she’s taken everything in her stride
- Beth Mead is the runaway favourite to win BBC Sports Personality of the Year
- The footballer played a major role in the Lionesses’ Euro 2022 triumph in June
- Mead was named player of the tournament and was the competition’s top scorer
- 2022 hasn’t all been plain sailing for Mead, who ruptured her ACL in November
- Her mother has been in and out of hospital as she continues to battle cancer
European champion, golden boot winner, best-selling author – it’s been some year for Beth Mead.
On Wednesday she could add BBC Sports Personality of the Year to that list of achievements. Mead, who would be the first female footballer to win the award, is the overwhelming favourite with odds of 1/80 – deservedly so.
Mead lit up Euro 2022, leading the Lionesses to their first ever international trophy with six goals in six games. Her performances also earned her the player of the tournament award.
Beth Mead is the runaway favourite to win BBC Sports Personality of the Year on Wednesday
She was the player of the tournament and top scorer during the Lionesses’ Euro 2022 triumph
These achievements are even more impressive given Mead had to bounce back from the crushing disappointment of being left out of the Team GB squad for the Tokyo Olympics.
The hurt Mead felt from that decision led to what is now fondly known as her ‘revenge tour’.
But while 2022 will go down as one of the best years of Mead’s life, it has not been without struggles.
Her mother, June, has been in and out of hospital as she continues to battle cancer. In November, Mead ruptured her ACL, putting her World Cup hopes in doubt. Her partner and Arsenal team-mate Vivianne Miedema suffered the same injury just weeks later.
Mead bounced back in style after being left out of the Team GB squad for the Tokyo Olympics
While the Euros success brought Mead more opportunities in sponsorship, it has also added more attention to her personal life.
Mead’s family hail from a small village in Whitby. During the Euros there were concerns over the attention her relatives were receiving and being in the spotlight is still something the forward and her Lionesses team-mates are adapting to.
The increase in exposure and demand from the public is something England boss Sarina Wiegman spoke about this week. ‘Within six weeks they became famous English people, everyone wants something from them,’ Wiegman said.
‘Your brains have to get used to your new life. It brings lots of good things but also some sacrifices. Some players can’t walk down the street anymore without being almost mobbed. That’s a big thing in your private life. You need time to adapt to that.’
The Arsenal star ruptured her ACL in November and is now a major doubt for the World Cup
Mead has taken everything in her stride. In her book, Lioness: My Journey to Glory, she talks about going on holiday with Miedema after her first TV appearance post-Euros.
‘Walking through the town square each evening, English tourists kept stopping me, Mead wrote. ‘One night, a restaurant owner interrupted us to say that a family who had just left had paid for our meal.’
There are more stories in Mead’s book about being recognised in the street after leading the Lionesses to glory. The forward was doing a photoshoot outside the Emirates when a dustbin wagon pulled over and its driver began chanting: ‘Meado! Meado!’
Though Mead is now one of the most well-known female players in England, there was an amusing moment at October’s Ballon d’Or ceremony when a picture of her and Miedema was captioned: ‘Vivianne Miedema and a guest.’ Mead, who finished runner-up to Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas, saw the funny side.
England cricket captain Ben Stokes is in contention to win BBC Sports Personality of the Year
It is highly unlikely she will be runner-up at SPOTY on Wednesday.
Should Mead triumph, Mead will join Bobby Moore, Paul Gascoigne, Michael Owen, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs as the footballers who have won the award. That is not bad company.
Mead, though, will no doubt stay grounded. This is the Arsenal forward who still cleans her own boots after all. What she has achieved in 2022 will go down in history and will be part of a lasting legacy for women’s football in this country.