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Palgrave Macmillan

Legendary Lionesses

The England Women’s Football Team, 1972–2022

  • Book
  • © 2023


  • Provides the first academic history of a national women’s football team
  • Charts the change from amateurism in 1972 to the newly professionalized era in 2022
  • Draws on unique access to player data, career pathways, and FA international documentation

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Table of contents (6 chapters)


About this book

This is the first academic history of the FA England women’s national football team. Based on unprecedented access to FA data, it details the careers of the 227 women who debuted for England from 1972 to 2022. England won the UEFA Women’s Euros in 2022, and Jean worked with Sarina Wiegman and the squad, on the Legendary Lionesses from 1972.


"In 2019 Jean Williams invited me to present to FA staff which included Sarina Wiegman and her technical department. It is very important to me that the generation of players before me, and the generation I played alongside, are recognised, remembered and their stories told. Without Jean, I am not sure the players of previous generations would have the profiles they have now, or have been acknowledged as the pioneers and legends of the women’s game.’

—Kerry Davis, England international and professional footballer

"Jean Williams came into my life after years of being cast into footballing obscurity. She has been instrumental in raising the awareness of my achievements, and that of other women footballers of my generation, contributing to my raised national and international recognition, and dual roles as a FA and UEFA Ambassador during the 2022 EURO's."

—Carol Thomas, second captain of the England team and first woman to get 50 caps for England

"Jean Williams has written a unique book which gives the pioneering players of England Women’s Senior Teams from 1972-2022 the attention they deserve. The culmination of decades of detailed original historical research, this book provides a fascinating insight into players’ lived experiences and makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the history of women’s football, and women in society. Essential reading for anyone with an interest in football, history and gender."

—Jess Macbeth, University of Central Lancashire, UK

"This historical exploration provides a much needed and highly valuable insight into the past 50 years of women’s national football, covering five decades of progress and resistance. This book comes at a significant time and provides a platform for previously unheard and marginalised voices and stories. This project is an accomplished historical document and is both personable and engaging. Italso offers a hard-hitting, critical exploration of the inequality and inequity that has led to many of these stories of marginalisation; as such it provides a space for enacting social justice. A must read for sports fans, scholars and curious minds alike."

—Hanya Pielichaty, University of Lincoln, UK

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leicestershire, UK

    Jean Williams

About the author

Jean Williams published A Game for Rough Girls? A History of Women's Football in England, in 2003. She subsequently published A Beautiful Game: International Perspectives on Women's Football (2007), and Globalising Women’s Football: Europe, Migration and Professionalisation 1971-2011 (2013). 

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Legendary Lionesses

  • Book Subtitle: The England Women’s Football Team, 1972–2022

  • Authors: Jean Williams

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham

  • eBook Packages: History, History (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-031-36759-5Published: 07 January 2024

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-031-36760-1Published: 06 January 2024

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: VIII, 173

  • Topics: History of Britain and Ireland, History, general, Oral History, Sport Science , Sociology of Sport and Leisure

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