'She had a team's destiny in her hands'

Arsene Wenger has praised Leah Williamson’s character after her penalty secured England’s place at the Under-19 European Championships.

The 18-year-old had to retake a spot-kick against Norway this month a full five days after referee Marija Kurtes had disallowed her penalty for encroachment and wrongly awarded a free-kick to England's opponents.

Williamson’s courage to take responsibility with just 18 seconds left on the clock helped her win the PFA Women’s Young Player of the Year award, and Wenger hailed her mental strength.

"It speaks volumes for Leah’s character and I want to congratulate her"

Arsene Wenger

“When you have only 18 seconds and a penalty to take, you have the destiny of your team in your hands,” the manager said. “What is difficult maybe is to have five days to think about it.

“That builds up the pressure and the nervousness. When you’re in the game, you’re under pressure as well but you do not have too much time to think about it.

“Certainly in the five days preceding the penalty, you put it in every corner - left, right, up and down. In the end you don’t know anymore so it can confuse your mind and your spirit. Maybe the most difficult thing is the time you have to wait for it.

“It speaks volumes for Leah’s character and I want to congratulate her. The only thing for sure is the goalkeeper on the other side certainly had the same problem!”

Leah Williamson

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