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Goggles and sheer grit - that's what Ellen White is made of

Goggles and sheer grit - that's what Ellen White is made of

09/06/2019 at 18:35Updated 09/06/2019 at 21:18

England centre-forward began her third Women's World Cup in fine fashion - writes Carrie Dunn.

Think of Ellen White, and you think of two things.

That celebration, where she creates a circle with her thumb and index finger, and puts both hands to her eyes, as if they are goggles. (It's a tribute to Anthony Modeste, she revealed when she first tried it out in the 2017 SheBelieves Cup.)

And her sheer industry.

The 30-year-old is one of those players who would be happy to play anywhere on the park, but is perhaps most effectively used as an old-fashioned centre forward, holding the ball up brilliantly.

That's not to say she doesn't score goals. She does - and she scores both the tap-ins and the flights of fancy, as she showed once again against Scotland.

Her fine finish to put England two up was just reward for her endeavour; indeed, she thought she had scored earlier in the half - and had set off on that celebration - before noticing that the offside flag had been raised.

This is White's third World Cup. Her close friend and captain Steph Houghton spoke in the pre-match press conference about the important role of senior players in the squad; and White herself mentioned in a media briefing earlier in the week that the England youngsters knew very well of the sacrifices that had been made by generations before them.

That includes those players in their late twenties and early thirties now, who have straddled the amateur and professional eras of women's football in England. White was one of the players who were part of the launch of the Women's Super League, but she spent the first seasons keeping up her day job, working in then-club Arsenal's community department.

Her extensive elite career has had plenty of highlights, make no mistake. In 2011, as a newcomer to the stage, she showed no sign of nerves, and scored one of the greatest goals the tournament has ever seen with a perfectly executed lob against Japan.

She was part of the bronze medal-winning squad in 2015 - but that came after she had returned from a serious knee injury, damaging her cruciate ligament in the summer of the previous year (having suffered a similar issue earlier in her career), and a back problem kept her out for the first part of the season just gone. Her repeated battles back to full fitness have been rewarded with her inclusion in this England squad - and getting her chance in the starting eleven.

And those injuries may lurk at the back of her mind - but she does not let it hamper her play, happy to put her body on the line, exemplified by her throwing herself at a loose ball in the box as Scotland goalkeeper Lee Alexander tried to claim it.

White might not always be the most eye-catching of players, and she gets particularly overlooked when the flair, guile and audacity of the likes of team-mates Nikita Parris and Fran Kirby attract attention. But there's a reason Manchester City want her to lead the line next season - they are guaranteed total commitment to the cause.