Just a few short weeks ago, we all witnessed a monumental sporting moment – football finally came home.
And it was the women’s game that did it, only a year since the England men’s team came so close to lifting the Euros trophy themselves.
The nation is bursting with pride for the phenomenal achievements of every player on England women’s team, affectionately known as The Lionesses, but we just had to give a little shout out to one of our local girls.
Ella Toone. The Wigan-born star has been called wonder kid and a golden girl, but she prefers to be ‘just Ella’.
The 22-year-old has built the bulk of her sporting career here in Greater Manchester.
Born in Tyldesley, she spent many years as a junior at Manchester United – but the team, until very recently, didn’t have a senior women’s team for her to move up to.
So it was off to Blackburn she went, then briefly she played for Manchester City, before finally joining Man Utd in 2018 for their inaugural season.
In an interview with BBC Sport, Ella – a life-long United (and Cristiano Ronaldo) fan – said: “It’s the best feeling in the world. Growing up a Manchester United fan, and then being able to play week in week out for the club that you love and support is really special.
“Growing up it was tough – I was in the United academy for seven/eight years, and there was nothing to look up to. There was no women’s team to try and get in to.”
But once news of a Manchester United women’s squad landed, Ella said: “It was home. I knew that my ambitions matched theirs. I’ve been happy ever since.”
Fast forward to 2022, and she has become a household name thanks to her stunning performance with the England Women’s team at the Euros.
Ella’s impeccable chip into the net had all of Wembley on its feet during the final, and it was one of two goals that saw England storm to victory.
Along with her teammates, she is now riding the wave of the team’s success to try and make changes that will last an eternity.
The Lionesses recently penned an open letter to Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, demanding that young girls are given the opportunity to get into the sport and that women’s football is given proper investment from school age onwards.
They told the prospective PMs that only 63% of girls can play football in PE at school, saying ‘a generation of school girls deserve more.’
The letter stated: “Throughout the Euros, we as a team spoke about our legacy and goal to inspire a nation. Many will think that this has already been achieved, but we see this as only the beginning.
“We are looking to the future. We want to create real change in this country and we are asking you, if you were to become Prime Minister on 5 September, to help an achieve that change.”
The highly-praised letter went on to ask the Government to ensure all girls have access to a minimum of two hours a week of P.E.
The co-signed letter said: “They deserve to play football at lunchtime, they deserve to play football in PE lessons and they deserve to believe they can one day play for England. We want their dreams to also come true.
“This is an opportunity to make a huge difference. A change that will impact millions of young girls’ lives. We – the 23 members of the England Senior Women’s EURO squad – ask you to make it a priority to invest into girls’ football in schools, so that every girl has the choice.”
And as Ella Toone herself once said – “I was once just a little girl with a lot of dreams, and I’ve managed to achieve them.”
About Manc of the Month
We all know that Manchester is home to some special people, some born here and others drawn here, and after a bumpy two years that effectively amounted to one big lockdown, it’s these special people that have inspired and led us through the tough times – so we decided to start a series that shines a light on those who should be celebrated.
With bonuses, Erling Haaland is earning over £865,000 a week at Manchester City
This doesn’t exactly make for comfortable reading in the middle of a cost of living crisis, but a report claims to have broken down how much Erling Haaland is on a week at Manchester City. It’s a lot.
According to Mail Plus’ Mike Keegan, the 22-year-old striker is earning nearly £900,000 a week and while this might sound like a ridiculous amount even for a footballer, there is a quite an easy explanation as to why the approximate figure is so massive: bonuses.
In case you have noticed, the Norwegian goal machine is absolutely hammering the Prem already with 14 goals and three assists in just eight games. He’s also on five goals from three appearances in the Champions League. The way it’s going, he could break all kinds of records.
More poignantly, although he is said to be on a ‘basic’ wage of around £375,000 a week, his incredible return has already seen him earn a number of goal bonuses and is inevitably going to secure several others by the end of the season.
While Keegan could not break down the specifics of how much his add-ons are worth individually, he stated that Haaland is effectively earning over £865,000 a week and on track to net a cool £45 million for the year.
Despite the cost of living crisis, following the most recent government budget, footballers are actually set to make an estimated £240,000 extra a year following tax cuts – not that Haaland, or any of them need it.
But, seriously, what is it with this guy and ridiculous numbers? It’s genuinely got to the point where joking or not, people are creating petitions to have him banned from competitive football.
City have managed to tie down a truly generational talent for five years, meaning he will almost certainly be at the club until 2027 at the very least. Chances are, given their chronic success over the past decade, he will probably stay long past then.
That’s the league done and dusted for the foreseeable then.
He could go down as one of the greatest to ever do it, at least in front of goal anyway and whether you’re a blue or not, we should just be grateful we get to watch a player of his calibre in our lifetime.
Man City star Ilkay Gundogan’s wife blasted after calling Manchester’s restaurants ‘horrible’
The wife of one of Manchester City‘s star players has come under fire after taking a hit at the city’s restaurants and branding them “horrible”.
Sara Arfaoui – who is the wife of Manchester City midfielder and club captain, İlkay Gündoğan – took to social media this week to give her opinion on Manchester‘s thriving, ever-expanding, and much-loved hospitality community in response to a fan who asked her to list some of her favourite places to grab a bite to eat in the city.
The model and TV presenter is known for being a keen foodie herself, so it’s no surprise that fans want to hear what she has to say about the food and drink scene in her new home city.
What does seem to have shocked people, though, is that she’s not really a fan of what’s on offer here.
In response to a question during a Q&A on her Instagram Stories yesterday, Sara explained: “Sorry… I’m sad to be honest but nothing.
“I tried so bad to find a good restaurant but… horrible food everywhere.
“Can’t find a real Italian or good sushi or just fresh food… everything frozen. Restaurants here are just focus on making money with drinks and shot like night clubs not quality food.
“Maybe in London but in Manchester nothing. I’m sorry.”
Given the fact that us Mancs don’t take too kindly to those hitting out our beloved city, Sara’s comments have been met with a wave of backlash from Manchester’s restaurant owners, leading industry figures, and legion of dedicated foodies – who have all hit back online with their own views throughout today, and have urged the public figure to reconsider what she said.
Not only that, but renowned food critic Jay Rayner has even waded into the argument.
“This is a ludicrous point of view,” Rayner said.
“Manchester’s packed full of brilliant, independent restaurants. It’s an absolute gem of a place to eat and comments like this during difficult economic times are not helpful to businesses struggling to make ends meet.”
One local un-named restaurant owner apparently even contacted Sara herself to ask her to clarify some of the comments she made, according to reports in The Sun, saying: “There’s so many great restaurants in Manchester. I suggest you do research before you speak. And only because your husband is a footballer and you have money and you have everything probably paid for and a great life given to you here in Manchester.
“You should be grateful for that, instead of slagging off restaurants.”
At this challenge though, the 27-year-old model – who married the footballer earlier this year in May – likely didn’t give the response the restaurant owner was looking for, and deciding to double down on her comments, explaining: “So because we are successful people we can’t give an honest opinion?
“I tried all the best restaurants here but for me it’s a no. I can’t lie. Unfortunately I’m used to Italy so you can imagine it’s hard to compare.”
She did, however, add that Manchester is “a great city” with “great people” – but “not for restaurants.”