Bobby Moore, Paul Gascoigne, Michael Owen, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs. They are the only five players to be crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year in the award’s 68-year history.
On Wednesday night, if the bookies are to be believed, Beth Maid is set to become No. 6 and the first woman on this list of legends.
“They’re not bad to be side by side, are they?” Smiling lioness on Zoom in on Tuesday. I will take that. I think I would die happy if I went over to their side.
Beth Mead is the favorite to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award on Wednesday
Only Moore on that list did what Mead did – winning a major tournament with England.
The Arsenal striker scored six goals and contributed five assists to the Lionesses winning the European Women’s Championship in the summer, and was awarded the Golden Boot.
That is why Mead is the SPOTY favorite from a six-man shortlist, which includes England T20 World Cup finalist and Test captain Ben Stokes, World Snooker Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, World 1500m Champion Jake Whiteman, Olympian. Curling gold medalist Eve Muirhead and world champion gymnast Jesica Gaderova. US Open golf winner Matt Fitzpatrick is a notable omission.
“It’s something I never thought I’d be competing with,” Mead admits. It’s a bit surreal to be around some of these people. I watched Eve Muirhead at a lot of the Olympics when I was younger. She captivated me and made me watch curling. She would have my vote.
Bobby Moore (left) and David Beckham (right) are among only five players to have won the award
“Sportsmanship is something we always sit down as a family and watch. I know how proud my mum, dad and brother are.
Meade’s father will be attending the show in Salford with her, as will her co-star Vivian Miedema.
Unfortunately for his Arsenal team-mates, though, they will be outfitting their dresses with crutches after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last month. ‘It wouldn’t be my sexiest look,’ laughs Mead. “We would look like the right pair.”
It was announced last week that Meade – who suffered an injury in the 3-2 defeat by Manchester United on November 19 – had signed a new contract with Arsenal.
“The timing (of the contract) couldn’t have been better for me because I signed it right before my injury,” she says.
Meade was player of the tournament and top scorer during the Lionesses’ triumph at UEFA Euro 2022
But time is not on Mead’s side when it comes to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next July, from which ACLs usually take at least nine months to recover from.
Is she worried about missing the tournament? “Yeah, I’m doing it because I think it would be difficult for me to play a football game before then, which isn’t ideal for heading into the World Cup.
It’s a hard thing to think about, but my motivation is to try to get as close as possible. And if I couldn’t, I know I did everything I could to try and get there.
Mid now at least has Miedema – who has already ruled herself out of the World Cup for the Netherlands – to keep her company on the long road to recovery.
Mead bounced back in style after being left out of Team GB’s squad for the Tokyo Olympics
“We have our protein bottles with Beth ACL 1 and Viv ACL 2,” she smiles.
“It’s obviously not an ideal situation, but it’s nice that she’ll be there so we can motivate each other in the gym.”
However, the injuries of Meade and Miedema have shed more light on player well-being in the women’s game. Mead notes that at least five of the women who finished in the top 20 in this year’s Ballon d’Or voting — she, Miedema, Alexia Potellas winner, Catarina Macario and Marie Antoinette Katoto — have had ACL injuries.
That was hardly welcomed, however, when FIFA President Gianni Infantino announced last week that there would be a Women’s Club World Cup in 2025. “It sounds exciting, but it’s something else to be involved in,” says Mead.
I think scheduling needs to be considered. We went to the Eurozone and two weeks later and a few weeks later we were right back in the camp again. It is not time to give up playing football, both mentally and physically.
The Arsenal star tore her anterior cruciate ligament in November and is now a major World Cup doubt
Women are six times more likely to have an anterior cruciate ligament injury. You wonder why it happens when there are players playing at the top of the game. Is there anything we can do to prevent this? I think more research needs to go into it.
On Wednesday night at least, Mead can forget the rigors of rehab and enjoy a night of partying with her fellow lionesses, including the Queen of the Jungle, Jill Scott. “I used my five free votes every night for her!” Mead says.
Do you want to imitate Scott? I’m famous one day?
‘I’d like to. I’m not a fan of all scary creeps, but I’d like to see if I can conquer my fears and give them a go. But I don’t think I’m neatly coordinated enough! “
Meade and her partner, Arsenal and Netherlands star Vivian Miedema, will attend the ceremony on crutches
In addition to Mead taking home a major SPOTY award, the Lionesses will almost certainly be named to the Team of the Year and their manager, Sarina Wegman, should be crowned Coach of the Year. “Sarina will definitely get my vote,” says Mead. It is largely thanks to her that she came home.
It is very difficult to explain how and what I did in such a small time frame. She had such an incredible power of getting us all to calm down before the biggest games of our lives.
After the final we all gave one of the staff T-shirts and I got Sarina and the teacher’s pet was called. I said it to her in my small talk before giving it to her, but she actually didn’t understand what a teacher’s pet was, so I had to explain it! “
Not a day goes by when Mead doesn’t think of that glorious day at Wembley in July, when England beat Germany 2-1 after extra time to win the country’s first major trophy since 1966.
“There is always a memory running through your brain,” she says. “We were on our way to the UAE that day and I was in a car with my team mates Kim Little and Teyah Goldie. We watched Wembley and I said, ‘Look, there’s Wembley, I won Euros there’, just to end the game. It’s not something I would ever get bored of saying.
These memories will stay with us girls and hopefully be home for the rest of our lives. It would be nice to see that on a big screen and experience it a little bit, but God knows how emotional we all got on the night.”
Just imagine how emotional Mead would be, then, if she succeeded in naming 2021 award winner Emma Raducanu to be Sports Personality of the Year. “It would be incredible if I won this prestigious award, not even for me, but for the women’s game,” she adds.
After the Euros, people said, “You’re a national hero,” and I said, “I’m not, I’m just Beth Mead, I’m playing football, I’m kicking a bag of fart around.” I really don’t feel like what I’m doing has gotten me to this point.
BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2022 is shown on BBC One from 6.45pm on Wednesday evenings.
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