Barnsley Lioness Bethany England on captaining Tottenham Hotspur, her hip injury and gaining a law degree

Barnsley Lioness Bethany England chats to Lauren Taylor about recovery, learning about herself and getting her law degree.

Bethany England has had a “whirlwind” 2023 – with a club transfer, World Cup heartache and a serious hip injury, but she says this year has taught her “a lot” about herself.

In January, the Women’s Super League striker moved from Chelsea – where a lack of game time meant she was “going to work miserable, coming home miserable”, to Tottenham where she helped save the team from relegation and was named captain by September.

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But a niggle she felt before the Fifa Women’s World Cup in the summer proved to be a warning sign of a labrum tear in her hip and damage to cartilage, a scan after the final against Spain showed.

Bethany England, training with the England team ahead of the World Cup. Picture: Bradley Collyer/PABethany England, training with the England team ahead of the World Cup. Picture: Bradley Collyer/PA
Bethany England, training with the England team ahead of the World Cup. Picture: Bradley Collyer/PA

“If it had torn any worse it could have been career ending, so it was a big wake-up call,” says the 29-year-old from Barnsley. The consultant “told me I landed in the one per cent of sports professionals that need this surgery.”

She’d put off getting a scan until after the tournament was over because, “naturally, I wanted to play at the World Cup. So [I said] I’ll be fine until we get back”.

After surgery, England spent two weeks “literally not able to do anything”, which she says was “pretty awful”, four weeks on crutches and three months in total recovering, but she’s now been cleared to return to training.

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“My hip has completely healed, the strength has come back and I’ve got to continue doing certain exercises, probably throughout my career,” she shares. The treatment revealed that she has hip dysplasia too – where the hip socket doesn’t fully cover the ball portion of the upper thigh bone – so she’ll have to do certain exercises throughout her career to ensure she doesn’t “end up back in the same situation again”.

Bethany England playing for Tottenham Hotspur. Picture: John Walton/PABethany England playing for Tottenham Hotspur. Picture: John Walton/PA
Bethany England playing for Tottenham Hotspur. Picture: John Walton/PA

She says: “I’ve definitely learned a lot about myself in this period. As smooth as my rehab has gone, there’s been a few times where I found it very difficult, you get down in the dumps, you have the good days and you have your bad days.

“The biggest thing for me was trying to find a little win in each day of my rehab – it’s the little targets rather than just looking at the long-term aim because you’re forever going to feel like it’s too far away.

“I’m quite an impatient person, which I didn’t realise before – but I think it’s taught me that I do need to slow down and listen to my body more,” says England, who is an ambassador for and their ‘Spa a Thought’ campaign.

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Its aim is to reward deserving people with a year-long spa membership, someone who has been through hardship, cares for others or has health struggles, like cancer – a disease England has seen a lot of in her family (her auntie died of leukemia, her granddad died of bowel and skin cancer, and her nan has survived breast cancer).

England, who lives with partner Stephanie and their two dogs (“I’m grateful that they were patient with me whilst I couldn’t walk them everyday!”), says she’s getting better at coping with change after leaving her club of seven years.

Towards the end of her time at Chelsea, with a lack of game time, she says: “I was probably not the happy self that I usually am and it can be hard balancing those emotions while also trying not to take it out on the people around you. I would definitely say I did do that at times, I probably wasn’t much fun to be around in periods.

“But you go through hardship and you continue pushing on, and that’s the beauty of life, that things are so unexpected and up and down, and it makes you appreciative of certain things. Like now, I’m very appreciative that I’m playing ball. What I went through at Chelsea has probably just made me a stronger person.”

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Her move to Spurs for a reported £250,000 was a British transfer record in the women’s game. She had a blistering start, scoring 13 goals in 14 games, before the hip injury meant she had to take on her new captain role without actually playing.

So does she think she’s a natural leader? “I’m not sure about that – I like to talk a lot,” she says, with a laugh. “I thrive off pressure and I like to be put in a position where I’m needed and depended on. I like people to count on me to do things.”

It helps that she’s come from a “winning environment” at Chelsea (they’ve won the Women’s Super League six times). “But I hope I can lead in a way where I’m not only driving standards, I like to think I’m a very empathic person, I’m very in touch with feelings.”

She puts her competitive nature down to being a twin. “Because as twins you always get compared a lot,” she says. “Laura was the smarter twin, she always got better grades. For the physical side we were fairly even, but I did have a bit of an edge in certain sports. You’re always competing really.”

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Alongside playing professional football for club and country, England has been studying for a law degree, finishing last year. Although, “I wasn’t able to do my graduation because I went to the Euros, I applied for graduation this year and then ended up at the World Cup!” she says. She may not have had her hat and gown moment yet, but she does have some impressive silverware.

Growing up, she was “absolutely obsessed” with TV shows like Criminal Minds, CSI, and Law and Order. “I’d like to be able to use it in sport, making sure there are safer and more protective laws for female athletes, whether that’s surrounding maternity pay or welfare, making sure that there are things in place that so that financially and legally women are protected in major sport.”

Bethany England is an ambassador for’s ‘Spa a Thought’ Christmas campaign. To nominate someone to win a year-long spa membership at the luxurious Pennyhill Park Hotel & Spa for 2024, go to