Leeds United winger Sue Smith celebrated winning her 50th England cap by meeting the Queen - of Holland.
It was a right royal occasion as Leeds United winger Sue Smith celebrated winning her 50th England cap by meeting the Queen – of Holland.
Along with team-mates Jody Handley and Rachel Unitt, plus National Coach Hope Powell and the head of the FA Women’s Committee Ray Kiddell, Sue was presented to Queen Beatrix following the 2-1 victory over Holland in Heerhugowaard.
The Queen had not watched the game but was at the Reiger Boys Stadium to collect a cheque on behalf of the charity which carries her name and which provides funding to help handicapped children participate in sport.
The ceremony over, however, the Queen then met players and officials of the Holland and England teams – and for Sue Smith in particular, the occasion capped a memorable day.
The 24 year-old winger, who made her England debut against Germany back in February 1997, said: "Meeting the Queen was a fantastic way to end a very special day for me – it’s the sort of thing you tell your grandchildren about.
"The Queen was really nice and it was quite informal – no curtseying or anything like that. She was down to earth and spoke the whole time in English.
"She told us her son played football but that she wasn’t too keen on him playing because it’s such a rough sport – and she told us to take care because it’s so rough, although we already know all about that."
Sue herself certainly does know about the harder side of the game, a broken leg in February 2002 having interrupted her playing career to such an extent that Saturday’s match against Holland marked her first international start since sustaining the injury.
But she is delighted to be back in the England fold and aiming to add to her already impressive tally of caps, with a place in the squad for the 2005 UEFA Women’s European Championship finals at the top of her list of priorities.
She said: "I’d no idea I was on 49 caps until someone told me, so it was a surprise as much as a pleasure to make it 50. I’m proud of the achievement, especially after being out for such a long time after breaking my leg.
"I didn’t really start getting back towards my best until the end of last season, but I feel that I am getting there now and it was great to get 90 minutes for England under my belt on Saturday.
"It’s been hard forcing my way back into the team, but hopefully if I keep working hard and doing well for Leeds I’ll be in with a shout for the Euro 2005 squad.
"There’s going to be tremendous competition for places, but with the tournament being held in England it’s going to be fantastic for women’s football in this country and I really do want to be part of it."