As England take to the field on Tuesday for the European Championship semi-final, Lucy Lynch will make history in becoming the first England Women’s player to reach 100 caps for her country in a remarkable international career spanning 17 years and counting.
Our co-captain out in Netanya, Israel, the energetic midfielder’s career has been a storied and successful one with a truly outstanding record and Tuesday will be the latest milestone for the 35-year-old.
Lucy Lynch won her first England cap as a 17-year-old in 2002 with a win in the annual Home Internationals competition against Scotland.
Lynch was still involved at this time in the junior England set up, as well as representing the full England side, such was her talent, and would go on to be a star and leading goal scorer of the 2003 U19 World Championships.
Lois Richardson, England Head Coach in 2002, who awarded Lynch her first cap, remembers what made her stand out at such a young age.
“She’s got wheels!”, boomed an American accent across the pitch at the 2005 Lacrosse World Cup.
“Lynch was indeed ‘super fast’ and it got her noticed. But Lucy’s underlying potential only became clear to me over the next ten years.
“When I first scouted Lucy as a Caterham schoolgirl, she was raw, exciting, strong, competitive, possibly brainless, definitely a show-boater and undoubtedly a ’ball hog’!
“For me, Lucy’s greatest strength was her cast-iron mentality. Under the toughest and most challenging match conditions I knew she was able to think correctly under pressure.
“This she did when scoring goals at vital moments, none less so than in a sudden death victory in the 2005 World Cup to take England to a Bronze medal”.
Lynch’s natural speed, mental strength and exceptional physicality belied her 5’5” stature and she was a dual sport international.
Representing England 7s Rugby 2005-2006, she suffered a horrific, potentially career ending, leg injury, with multiple breaks, putting her out of both sports for almost a year.
It also meant she was unable to take up scholarships at Northwestern and Denver, offered after she had such an impact at the U19 World Championships.
But she continued to demonstrate all the hallmarks that make her a respected and valued team mate in this time, still travelling with the squad helping with video analysis and stats while she rehabbed religiously.
Lynch recovered from her injury and instantly forced her way straight back into the starting squad for England.
She was finally able to fulfil her ambition to play division 1 NCAA lacrosse and received a sports scholarship with James Madison University, the first English player to take up a USA collegiate scholarship, opening the way for many to follow.
A big success at JMU, she returned to England to join the squad in preparation for the 2009 World Cup.
Lynch was a key member of the side who finished 4th, scoring 9 goals for the second consecutive World Cup.
2012 saw Lynch elevated to the role of vice-captain ahead of the 2012 European Championships, which England won, a role she continued for the 2013 World Cup campaign ending in another 4th place finish.
2016 was a significant milestone for Lynch, an integral part of the midfield that over-ran Australia in a 2-1 test series win, the first against Australia since 1989, followed up by a test victory over Canada, for only the second time since the 2005 World Cup 3/4th play off.
The momentum carried Lynch into her 4th world cup, a feat only previously achieved by an handful of other players, where the team finally returned to 3rd in the world rankings, beating Australia in overtime in front of a raucous home crowd.
And In Israel Lynch has begun to add the next chapter to the story, now as proud mother to son Leo, and captain of England, where she will win that 100th cap.
Her enduring career has seen her play with 149 other players on the journey to become a centurion and on Tuesday will be the first player to reach this milestone for England.
Current Head Coach, Phil Collier said of his co-captain: “Lucy Lynch is the kind of player that every coach would love to have in their team. She is 100% committed to the cause and completely professional in her approach to preparation for training and games.
“She sets high standards for herself and her teammates and is willing to play whatever role is required to help the team to be better.
“On the field she consistently performs at a high level, bringing speed and agility, together with mental toughness and a real competitive edge. Attributes very much needed by top class midfielders in today’s game.
“As she approaches her 100th cap for England, becoming the first player to achieve that landmark, she represents her country with pride and is a great role model for all aspiring young England players.”
While Lucy will bring up 100 caps on Tuesday, she will be no doubt be hoping that cap number 101 will bring her a fourth medal at a major championship, and who knows for how long she may go on playing, setting the standard for all to follow.
England’s semi-final against either Ireland or Czech Republic will take place on Tuesday at 3.40 UK Time and can be watched Live on the Olympic Channel at www.olympicchannel.com
Written by Alex Carnegie-Brown