From Olympic heartache to England star: Beth Mead wins Sports Personality of the Year

Beth Mead poses with The BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2022 held at Media City UK, Salford.
Beth Mead poses with The BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award. Credit: PA

Beth Mead has capped an incredible year by being voted the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year for 2022.

The 27-year-old played a crucial part in England’s triumph at Euro 2022, scoring six goals and providing five assists. She was also chosen as UEFA’s player of the tournament.

Mead won the BBC public poll ahead of England Test cricket captain Ben Stokes and Olympic curling champion Eve Muirhead.

The other nominees on the six-person shortlist were gymnast Jessica Gadirova, 1500 metres world champion Jake Wightman and seven-time world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Mead said: “I’m incredibly honoured to win this award. I wouldn’t have done it without those girls over there and the team that have backed me.

"Yes, I’ve got this accolade, I did my job, I scored a few goals but I wouldn’t have done it without them.

"And I certainly wouldn’t have done it without my mum, my dad and all my family.

Beth Mead (middle) poses with presenters Alex Scott, Clare Balding, Gabby Logan and Gary Lineker. Credit: PA

"But most of all, this is for women’s sport, and for women’s sport heading in the right direction. So let’s keep pushing girls and let’s keep doing the right thing.”

Her success makes her the 13th individual female winner of the award, with Jayne Torvill also claiming it as part of her ice dance partnership with Christopher Dean in 1984.

She is also only the sixth footballer to win the award in its 68-year history.

  • Beth Mead’s 2022 was an emphatic case of a player bouncing back

The summer of 2021 was a hugely disappointing time for the Arsenal forward, with Hege Riise having left her out of the Great Britain squad that headed to the Tokyo Olympics.

A year later, shortly after being named in Sarina Wiegman’s England squad for the upcoming home European Championship, a very much in-form Mead spoke of having “channelled the negative energy into positive energy”.

The 2021-22 season had seen her register 14 goals and 19 assists in 40 appearances for the Gunners, and score 12 times in 10 England matches under Wiegman.

While Mead had no doubt she was in the best form of her career, she emphasised her belief she still had a lot more to give, and hoped she could show that at the Euros.

What followed was a tournament that could hardly have gone better for the 27-year-old.

England Manager Sarina Wiegman believes England's legacy from the past summer 'goes beyond winning the Euros'

  • Lioness success

The England team captivated the nation as they secured the first trophy in their history, and Mead having a crucial role that, claimed the Golden Boot and was named player of the tournament.

Mead scored six times and provided five assists, with the goals including the winner in the opening 1-0 victory over Austria, a hat-trick in a record 8-0 thrashing of Norway and England’s first as they thumped Sweden 4-0 in the semi-finals.

After the 2-1 extra-time win over Germany in the final at a packed Wembley, it was put to Mead, sat with the trophy and individual accolades on the table in front of her, that she was “an icon”.

“I’m just Beth Mead. It doesn’t sound right,” she replied with a smile.

  • A footballer since the age of six

Whitby-born Mead has been making waves ever since she first started playing football at the age of six, at sessions where she was the only girl.

Having subsequently been a part of boys’ and girls’ teams, she then spent time with Middlesbrough’s centre of excellence before signing, aged 16, for Sunderland, where she would prove to be a phenomenon.

In her five years with the Black Cats, Mead scored 77 goals in 78 games, was the Women’s Super League Golden Boot winner for 2015, and was also named PFA young player of the year.

A move to Arsenal followed in 2017, and she has gone on to net a total of 61 goals in 166 appearances so far for the club and help them win the League Cup in 2018, then become WSL champions a year later.

It was also in 2019 that Mead, who had been handed her senior England debut by Phil Neville the previous year after playing at various youth levels, made her first really eye-catching impression on the international stage, sealing a 2-1 win over Brazil at the SheBelieves Cup.

The Lionesses made history when they beat Germany 2-1 in the Women's Euros 2022 final. Credit: PA

She then played for England at that year’s World Cup in France, with her three assists including setting up Ellen White’s goal in the 2-1 semi-final loss to eventual champions the United States.

Having been prominent under Neville, who stepped down as England head coach in early 2021, Mead then became peripheral under Riise, an unused substitute in two of the Norwegian’s three matches as England interim boss before missing out on her GB squad.

But it has been a very different story since Wiegman took charge of the Lionesses in September last year, with Mead absolutely at the forefront as the continuing growth of English women’s football has been, in the words of Baroness Sue Campbell, “turbo charged”.

While it remains to be seen how 2023 pans out, there is no doubt that 2022 has been a year for her to remember.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know