England skipper Leah Williamson is to get the freedom of her home city after helping lead the Lionesses to Euro 2022 glory.
Having helped end the nation’s 56-year wait to win international football silverware since the 1966 World Cup, Williamson will now be the first person to receive the Freedom of Milton Keynes since it became a city to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Council leader Pete Marland said: “Obviously, we are immensely proud that Leah is from Milton Keynes and I think it would be totally appropriate that the very first person to be given the Freedom of the new city of Milton Keynes is the first woman to lead a national side to international honours and is from MK.
England’s Leah Williamson and Millie Bright celebrate with the trophy after then Euro 2022 final (Danny Lawson/PA)
“I have asked that the council start the process of bestowing the honour on her.”
It comes after the 25-year-old defender, who was one of England’s standout players of the tournament, captained the Lionesses to a 2-1 win over Germany after extra-time in the final at Wembley.
Mr Marland said: “The Lionesses are an inspiration to everyone and have shown that through teamwork, ability and hard work, anything is possible.”
Milton Keynes hosted four matches during the tournament, including a full house for the second semi-final.
Tell everybody you know, it’s coming home❤️ pic.twitter.com/j5bBr4d1Lq
— Leah Williamson (@leahcwilliamson) July 31, 2022
Mr Marland said the city had the “vision and confidence to back the tournament when many others did not” and hoped the event may help lead to greater backing for women’s sport.
He added: “I hope the win will have a lasting impact on women’s sport and I’m sure it has both inspired a new generation of women and girls to go out and take part in whatever their chosen sport is, as well as changing the attitude of many others to women’s sport in general.”
Lucy Bronze, 30, whom the Football Association say is arguably one of the best right-backs in the women’s sport, also looks set to be awarded the Freedom of Northumberland.
In a social media post, Northumberland county councillor Guy Renner-Thompson said he has “proposed” a motion, to be voted upon in September, calling for her to be granted the honour.
England’s Lucy Bronze with the Uefa Women’s Euro 2022 trophy (James Manning/PA)
Berwick-upon-Tweed-born Bronze has previously been named the 2018/19 Uefa Women’s Player of the Year and The Best Fifa Women’s Player for 2020.
Chloe Kelly, the 24-year-old forward who scored the winning goal in the Women’s Euro 2022 final, has also been offered the freedom of the borough in Ealing, where she grew up.
A tweet from the Ealing Council account said: “Hi @Chloe_Kelly98, Ealing Council would like to offer you freedom of the borough in which you grew up #MadeinEaling.
“Many thanks and huge congrats!”
Super sub Alessia Russo, 23, is also in line for an “honoured recognition” from her old stomping ground in Maidstone, Kent, although town hall officials could not yet say what it would be.
The forward won the hearts of sports fans with an outrageous backheel goal in England’s semi-final win over Sweden.
Maidstone mayor Derek Mortimer said: “It would be wonderful if there was a way that Maidstone Borough Council could award Alessia with an honoured recognition and I have put the wheels in motion to try and make that happen.
“Well done Alessia everyone in Maidstone is so proud of you.”
England’s Alessia Russo celebrates winning the Uefa Women’s Euro 2022 tournament (Nigel French/PA)
There was also plenty of hometown pride for Reading-born Fran Kirby, 29, whose council leader Jason Brock said the region felt “honoured” she was a championship-winning Lioness.
Kirby, 29, who was born and raised in Reading, played for Reading FC from the age of seven until she moved to Chelsea in 2015.
Mr Brock said: “The Lionesses are an inspiration to everyone, we hope the win will have a lasting impact on women’s sport and inspires a new generation of women and girls to go out and take part in whatever their chosen sport.”
He urged the community to support and celebrate women’s football by going to local matches as the new season kicks off.
Defender Lotte Wubben-Moy, 23, was also praised for being part of the Lionesses’ “truly monumental achievement” by Lutfur Rahman, the mayor of east London borough of Tower Hamlets.
He said: “We are incredibly proud that one of the Lionesses, Lotte Wubben-Moy, was born in Bow (Tower Hamlets).
“Lotte and the whole squad are an inspiration to us all, particularly the girls and young women who will want to follow in her footsteps. We will be there to support them.”