Women's Senior
Women's Senior

World Cups at youth level helped mould Toni Duggan into senior team star

Tuesday 04 Jun 2019
Toni Duggan has earned 72 senior team caps since her debut in 2012

Toni Duggan is about to embark on her second World Cup finals campaign as a senior international – but her grounding in England’s development squads means she can be regarded as a tournament veteran.

Before she made her senior team debut in 2012, the Barcelona striker enjoyed a fruitful few years on the road with the Young Lionesses.

A 17-year-old Duggan was a part of Mo Marley’s squad – which also contained Steph Houghton and Jade Moore – that reached the quarter finals of the U20 World Cup in Chile in 2008.

She followed that up with an appearance at the U20 finals in 2010, just a year after helping the U19s win the Euros in Belarus.

“The U20 World Cups were unbelievable,” recalled Duggan.

“I played in two of them and I now realise how lucky I am because some players haven’t even played in one.

“Playing in the opening game against Chile [in 2008] in front of 30,000 people – including about 700 dogs, believe it or not! – was absolutely amazing.

“To get to two World Cups showed how well we did as a team but also how well Mo did as a manager.”

Five members of Phil Neville’s senior squad for this summer’s World Cup in France played at the U20 World Cup in Germany nine years ago; Duggan, Moore, Demi Stokes, Lucy Bronze and Lucy Staniforth.

England players pose before the Mexico game at the U20s World Cup in 2010

This quintet were also key to Marley’s charges picking up Euro gold as U19s a year earlier.

Those squads were supplemented with the likes of Jordan Nobbs, Izzy Christiansen, Gemma Bonner and Gilly Flaherty, all future senior team internationals.

Meanwhile, Georgia Stanway, the youngest member of Neville's squad helped England finish third at the U20s World Cup last August.

And Duggan is in no doubt how crucial those youth tournaments were in terms of their development.

“The youth World Cups are identical to the senior World Cup,” she said.

“You play at similar, or the same, stadiums, you stay in the same areas of the country that you would at a senior World Cup, you have the same meetings with FIFA, all those type of things.

“Those two World Cups really did set us up for the big one. We knew exactly what to expect when we got to Canada [in 2015] because we’d done it all before.”

Duggan scored a dramatic late equaliser against New Zealand, in the fourth minute of added time, to send her country into the knockout stages in 2008.


“I remember it like it was yesterday,” she said. “I remember everything about it.

“We had to draw or win to go through. It was the last minute, so I pushed Jade Moore off the ball and just smashed it top bins.

“After I scored there was a big pile-up of players and staff celebrating on the pitch.

“Then I looked up and saw Hope Powell jumping up and down in the stands. It was amazing to see the senior team manager going mad because of my goal.”

Duggan added: “I can honestly say I have absolutely loved every single major tournament I’ve been to.

“And looking back now, it’s clear how much we all learned from the earlier ones.

“They have definitely left us in a better shape to approach a senior World Cup, no doubt about it.”

England’s World Cup campaign begins against Scotland on Sunday 9 June.

Then it’s Argentina on Friday 14 June and 2011 winners Japan five days later.

By Glenn Lavery