Mary Upps ready to do business in Euro final thanks to De Gea deal | Women’s Euro 2022

Mary Upps received a message of congratulations from David de Gea shortly after the final whistle was blown at Bramar Lane on Tuesday night.

England have just beaten Sweden 4-0 to reach the Euro 2022 final, but if Sarina Wegman’s goalkeeper hadn’t made some of the best early saves, the score could have been very different.

Although Earps and her Manchester United male footballers did not train together, they supported each other and kept in regular contact. “David just messaged me to say congratulations,” she reported, and her first save, stopping Sofia Jacobsen with her outstretched left leg in the opening 30 seconds, seemed straight out of De Gea’s script .

“I would make that comparison, no problem at all,” said the 29-year-old, who isn’t afraid to pick the Spanish goalkeeper’s brain. “I had a little talk with David. We passed messages back and forth about results and clean sheets and stuff. At Manchester United he was really supportive of the women’s game. It’s always good to have his support.”

Earps has come a long way in the past 10 years since she took a low-paying part-time job to earn the petrol money needed to drive to Doncaster Bells for training.

Ten years ago, the Nottingham-born goalkeeper never believed she would make a living from football and envisioned a career in business, completing a degree in Information Management and Business Studies at Loughborough University.

Although football remained her first love, business fascinated her and during the lockdown she persuaded United to allow her a special course in starting a business. She also relived the German, earning some as a backup goalkeeper for Wolfsburg in the 2018-2019 season.

“I eat, sleep, dream and breathe football,” she said. “But I’m also fascinated by business.” During the first lockdown, Upps particularly – and usually – enjoyed reading “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. At that stage, however, she appears to have given up on herself and will never rise above the bench at the international goalkeeper level.

Mary Upps celebrates England’s third goal against Sweden with Leah Williamson – she made a series of fine saves in the game. Photo: Visionhaus/Getty Images

After making her international debut under Mark Sampson in 2017, she played at the 2019 World Cup in France as Phil Neville’s third goalkeeper and arguably moved up the rankings under Wigman, only A serious injury forced Manchester City’s Ellie Roebuck to miss the first half of last season.

After Roebuck’s rehab, Wegman went through a period of rotating her, Aston Villa’s Hannah Hampton and Upps. Some critics have questioned the England manager’s judgment when the Manchester United goalkeeper was confirmed as the first choice for Euro 2022.

Upps kept them baffled by keeping four clean sheets in five games. In the semi-final, Stina Blackstenius’ shot came on an unstoppable track towards the far top corner, but Upps performed an acrobatic miracle and tipped the ball over.

At that point, it became very clear just how far Upps had come since France 2019, when her main contribution to England was indulging in morale-boosting shenanigans.

Mary Upps has kept four clean sheets in five matches at Euro 2022 thanks to saves including an acrobatic rollover against Sweden.
Mary Upps has kept four clean sheets in five matches at Euro 2022 thanks to saves including an acrobatic rollover against Sweden. Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

She didn’t feel “entitled to anything” at the time, nor did she publicly complain when Neville then dropped her entirely. “I was thinking very much: ‘Yeah, this could be the end of my international road,'” Earps said. “I never thought of more.”

However, Wiegmann acknowledged the quality and steady improvement of the goalkeeper, despite spending most of that season on the bench at Wolfsburg, with strikers like Denmark striker Penilhard in training. I learned a lot during the game.

It also helped that after years of frequent transfers – during her time at Doncaster she spent time at Birmingham, Bristol City and Reading – United offered her the stability of a long-term contract sex.

Even so, on Tuesday it seemed a player took her job so seriously that she had a special monitor to measure the quality of her sleep, but she didn’t seem too convinced by the extent of her recent transformation. “I really enjoy playing at this level,” she said.

“It’s an amazing feeling. I’m very proud to be part of this England team.

“My teammates have said some really good things – some amazing things – about me, and it means the world. I want to be the best for them.”

Not that she was ever someone who skipped her homework. While working at Doncaster Belles, the woman who used to work part-time in a movie theater now spends countless hours studying the small screen in her living room.

“I watch as much football as I can on TV,” Upps said. “I watch a lot of Premier League games, but I also study goalkeepers from all over the world. As a goalkeeper, it’s very important to develop your style because not everything works. You might see something on TV, but it might not Right for you; everyone’s physique is different and we all have different strengths.”

Luckily for England, Wigman has discovered an outstanding goalkeeping talent that other managers have failed to fully appreciate.

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