England’s Katie Zelem: ‘When I wasn’t picked in April, I thought my World Cup dream was over’

England midfielder Katie Zelem has described how she thought her chances of appearing in her first World Cup were over when she was not selected for an April camp.

Sarina Wiegman opted not to select the Manchester United player for games against Brazil and Australia, instead selecting Manchester City’s Jess Park, then on loan at Everton.

Asked about missing out on that squad, Zelem replied: “To be honest when I found out I wasn’t picked for the April camp I actually thought that was my World Cup dream over.

“I think that was one of the hardest moments to take, especially following the Euros last year when I wasn’t selected. It just kind of felt like there’s not another camp before the selection.

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“For a couple of days, I really thought that I’d worked so hard all season and it’s just not meant to be. We had some really important games at Manchester United, fighting for the league title and the FA Cup final and I think that really helped shift my focus to just being the best I could for my club and hopefully whatever I did was enough.”

Zelem narrowly missed out on selection for the European Championships last summer. Though she is one of the most experienced players in the squad, this is her first major tournament.

“The girls were saying a few days ago that it was a year to the day since winning the Euros,” she added.

“For me that was (being) sat watching the Euros. Football can change so quickly and for me it has.”

She was part of England’s starting XI for their final group-stage match against China, partnering Bayern Munich’s Georgia Stanway in midfield, and turning in a composed performance.

Keira Walsh’s injury opened up a spot in midfield, with Zelem describing the strangeness of replacing a close friend. The north-west born pair have known each other for 15 years.

“I think it’s a tough situation to be honest, especially when Keira is one of my closest friends in the team,” she said. “I think you never want to be playing on someone else’s misfortune but luckily we found out that Keira’s injury obviously wasn’t too long-term or serious. That is brilliant.”

England play their next game against Nigeria on Monday evening in Brisbane.


England’s defensive versatility could be the key to World Cup success

(Photo: Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images)

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