England midfielder and Swedish resident says the country is eagerly awaiting the Euros
Anita Asante will today join her England teammates on the short flight to Sweden for the European Championship – and the 28-year-old midfielder will be heading to familiar surroundings.
Asante, or ‘Neets’ to her teammates, plays her club football in Gothenburg and is relishing the opportunity to represent the Lionesses in her adopted home country.
She said: “Sweden as a country is very welcoming, and it’s nice to have fans that support my club and will maybe follow my progress in the competition – and who knows, maybe become new England fans.
“I think a lot of Swedish people support English Premier League teams, so they know we have a handful of girls that play for the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool, they’re hopefully going to want to follow and be excited about that.”
After they arrive in Sweden later today, England will travel to a short training camp, before facing the host nation in Uddevalla on 4 July in their final warm-up game before the action gets underway for real on 12 July.
And Asante says the entire squad is excited and raring get going.
“The atmosphere in the group is great. Everyone is just really excited, and anxious to get into the competition ahead,” she said.
Hope Powell named a 23-strong squad to fly out to Sweden
, and the group has what many believe to be the ideal blend of confidence, experience and youthful energy.
Among the 23, there are two newcomers to the senior international scene – Gemma Bonner and Lucy Bronze, while Toni Duggan, Jordan Nobbs and Jade Moore also experiencing their first major tournament.
At the other end of the scale, Rachel Brown and Kelly Smith will be experiencing their sixth major tournament, while five others will be appearing at their fifth.
Asante reckons it is this blend of wise heads and the fearlessness of youth that gives England a great opportunity in Sweden.
She said: “I think the fact that we have a number of new faces in the squad shows how competitive it is and how much strength in depth there is throughout the game at the moment.
“We’ve got a great depth in this team and a lot of players that can play in more than one position, which is always useful in tournament conditions.
“We’ve been together a while, the majority of the players, so we all know each other really well. We have a lot of knowledge going from all other competitions into this one which is going to help us greatly."
And it’s not only within the England squad that anticipation is high. Asante has noticed the entire country preparing for the action over recent weeks.
She said: “You’re starting to see flyers around the city, big billboards with their national team players and also quite a lot of adverts on TV. So it’s definitely starting to get a feel and a buzz, and a sense that something big is about to happen.
“I’m sure as the competition approaches and gets underway, you’re really going to feel that excitement.”
Following the final warm-up game, England travel to Linköping, where all three of their group games will take place.
First up is a game against Spain on 12 July, followed by Russia and France on 15 and 18 July respectively.