You’d think that when you spend most of your time in sportswear you’re itching to get away from it – but not Ella Toone, addicted coach and self-proclaimed football star.
“I’m a fan of sneakers, my mother gets mad because I always bring home more,” the 23-year-old said shyly.
So what did she get herself after England won Euro 2022 this summer? New sneakers, of course.
“I had a nice pair of Christian Dior trainers, luckily my mum and dad didn’t know what they were or how much they cost,” the midfielder reveals with a laugh.
For Toone, it goes beyond simply liking the aesthetic and sporty style. “I think taking care of my appearance is huge for my self-care. I always get my nails, eyelashes and eyebrows done. I have a saying: ‘Look good, feel good, play good,’” she explains.
Toone scored in the fierce Euros final against Germany, helping the team to victory. How did you feel when you got the win?
“It’s hard to sum it up,” she said. “It was amazing, it will stay with me for life. I started at a grassroots club and just won a home Euro for England. I’m only 23 and have accomplished so much in so little time.
She isn’t shy about mentioning her close-knit group of friends and family. “Sharing such a special moment with my family was something we all dreamed of – they went on this journey with me,” she says. “Seeing the support I received all summer was amazing. Family means a lot to me, and they sacrificed so much for me.
She is in a relationship with professional footballer Joe Bunney, who she says “understands what it’s like to play”, while adding with a laugh that she “could teach him a thing or two on the pitch”.
Her friendships help her keep her feet on the ground. She says of fellow Lioness and Manchester United team-mate Alessia Russo: “We have been on this journey together. I remember being called to my first camp in England and thinking she was cool and I wanted to be her mate. It was a special night after the victory, I won with my best friend by my side and our families with us.
The victory also marked a huge change in Toone’s life.
“Everything was suddenly very different. We knew things were going to change, but we didn’t know how much,” she recalls.
“I get papped and recognized walking down the street now. I have to make sure I look presentable every day, I have to be careful not to eat pastries when I should be doing something healthy.
But she is resolute that she is “still a normal girl who plays football and now uses my platform to help promote the sport to the masses”.
Toone knows how important role models can be. “When I was younger, I went to a meeting with them [England players Ellen White and Jill Scott] and now I play with them,” she says. “They have been huge for the growth of women’s football. When I made my England debut it was Jill’s 150th cap, and sharing that with her was amazing. I want to achieve this too.
In October, Tesco will celebrate pledging £100 million to good causes through its community grants scheme. Working with Tesco on their Golden Community Grants campaign, Toone has seen the impact of money going directly to communities, supporting grassroots sports.
“Giving so much to help different people will only help grow the game and give everyone an equal chance to get into the game of football. That money can do so much, from sorting out facilities, organize events and even feed empty stomachs,” Toone says. “The main thing for women’s football is to create that opportunity.”
Ella Toone has partnered with Tesco to launch its “Tesco Golden Community Grants Campaign”. They are surprising 100 local projects each with a £1million share, and each will receive a special £10,000 Golden Community grant.