After fulfilling her dream with England this summer as the Lionesses won Euro 2022 as the host nation, Ellen White announced Monday that she was retiring, with the news meaning she leaves the game on the highest possible note. As England women’s top career scorer — with 52 goals for England over a 12-year international career (113 caps), even notching twice in the group stage en route to glory this summer — she leaves the game one shy of the England career scoring record held by Wayne Rooney on the country’s combined scorers list.
The Manchester City star became England’s women’s top career scorer when she bagged a hat trick in a dizzying 20-0 drubbing of Latvia in a 2023 World Cup qualifier in December. Those three goals at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium saw her first draw level with and then overtake former Lionesses legend Kelly Smith (46 goals in 117 games) at the top of the women’s list.
To celebrate White’s stunning achievement, we thought we’d pick out five of the ace poacher’s best/most important goals for her country since making her international debut in 2010.
White had already represented England at under-17, under-19, under-20 and under-23 level by the time she made her full debut for the Lionesses against Austria at Loftus Road in 2010.
Aged just 20 at the time, the young striker managed to mark her first senior cap with a goal after coming off the bench to score in the final minute to wrap up a comfortable 3-0 victory.
—England (@England) March 25, 2016
England finished on top of their group at the 2011 World Cup thanks to a brilliant 2-0 win over favorites Japan in their final game. The encounter also saw White register her first goal at a World Cup; she opened the scoring in the 15th minute with an audacious 20-yard lob.
The Lionesses then went out in the next round, losing to France on penalties in the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Japan were able to recover and eventually win the tournament outright by beating the United States in the final.
— Nat. Football Museum (@FootballMuseum) May 4, 2018
White was in white-hot form at the 2019 World Cup and began as she meant to go on, scoring for England in their opening group game victory over Scotland.
She then returned to haunt Japan in the final group game with another two goals before taking her tournament tally to four with another strike against Cameroon in the round of 16.
Leading the line with pride, White scored her fifth goal in a 3-0 win over Norway in the quarterfinals before upping her haul once again with a sixth goal in the semifinals against the USWNT (an excellent first-time finish and the pick of the bunch) before having a further ruled out by VAR.
England ultimately lost 2-1 against the US and then slumped to another 2-1 defeat against Sweden in the third-place playoff (with White seeing yet another goal chalked off by VAR), though their star striker did finish as joint top goal scorer alongside Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan.
As such, White became England women’s top career World Cup goal scorer (7 goals) and joined Gary Lineker (1986) and Harry Kane (2018) as the only English players to score six goals at a single World Cup finals.
6 – Ellen White has scored six goals at the 2019 Women’s World Cup; no England player has scored more goals than her in a single FIFA World Cup finals tournament (@HKane – 6 in 2018 and @GaryLineker – 6 in 1986). Clinical. #FIFAWWC #Lionesses pic.twitter.com/L0FfZW3mJs
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 2, 2019
4. Breaking Smith’s record (vs. Latvia, November 2021)
Over a decade on from her first senior goal in an England shirt, White officially became the Lionesses’ leading career goal scorer when she scored three times in a 20-0 demolition of Latvia last winter.
Making her 101st appearance for her country, the striker notched her 46th, 47th and 48th international goals and thus moved past former teammate Smith to the top rung of the ladder as England recorded their biggest-ever competitive victory into the bargain.
When @ellsbells89 became our all-time record goalscorer 🤩
WHAT NOW! 🎉 pic.twitter.com/tTWqNedhHD
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) November 30, 2021
5. Half century (vs. North Macedonia, April 2022)
White’s 50th goal for England also came as part of a landslide victory, this time a 10-0 rout of North Macedonia as part of the 2023 World Cup qualification campaign.
The landmark goal came shortly before halftime in Skopje as White rose to head home the Lionesses’ fourth of the night and become only the second player in history to score half a century of goals for the England national team (after Rooney).
Kane has since become the third player to reach 50 goals for England, scoring his 50th for the Three Lions from the penalty spot in a 1-1 draw against Germany in the UEFA Nations League in June 2022.
Still, White stands alone at the top of a very, very exclusive club.