Duggan has not played for England since March 2020
Watching the Euro 2020 final at Wembley first hand on Sunday evening has fuelled Toni Duggan’s desire to earn a recall to England’s women’s national side.
After rejoining Everton last week to end a four-year spell away from the English league, the forward now has her sights firmly set on a starring role on the pitch at the Women’s European Championship on home soil next summer.
Duggan, 29, signed a two-year contract with Everton last Friday, following eight years away from the Merseyside outfit. She is back at the club where she began her career after spending four seasons in Spain, split over two seasons at Barcelona and then Atletico Madrid.
In her first interview since signing for Willie Kirk’s side, Duggan told Telegraph Sport the move was a “perfect match” for her, adding: “It’s home, that’s where I started out and I owe a lot to Everton. They helped me when I was younger, they gave me the platform to go on and do what I’ve done so far in my career.”
And it has been quite a career to date. After breaking through at Everton and joining Manchester City in 2013, Duggan became a key part of the England squad that reached the semi-finals of the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, as well as Euro 2017. She has scored 19 goals in 79 senior international caps, with her best moments in a Lionesses shirt to date arguably coming at those last Euros, where she was on the scoresheet twice, during victories over Scotland and Portugal.
Duggan, however, has not played for the national side since before the pandemic back in March 2020 and hopes a return to the Women’s Super League will tie in with a recall to the England squad.
Despite scoring an impressive 26 goals in Spain’s top flight and helping Barcelona reach the 2019 Women’s Champions League final, it is in England where Duggan has given fans the greatest entertainment, scoring several long-range screamers to help Manchester City lift the title back in 2016 and help Everton win the FA Cup back in 2010 and League Cup final in 2008.
“You don’t forget those moments, my first trophies – my memories of Everton were us always beating the top teams in England, Everton and Arsenal [fighting for trophies], and that’s still how I see Everton.
"I hope we can get back there as well, I believe we can. I’m buzzing to come back and hopefully I can help them in their big push this year,” Duggan added, clearly impressed by the hands-on approach of the club’s sporting director, Sarvar Ismailov.
“I’ve met with Willie [Kirk] and Sarvar, and he’s a big figure who is involved in the women’s game – that’s important. One day he was doing the signing of Rafa Benitez and the next day he was doing my signing. That’s so important, to have that connection.
Our new number 9. 😍
🔵 @toniduggan pic.twitter.com/c7n9TgPlOm
— Everton Women (@EvertonWomen) July 9, 2021
“There was a time when Everton got relegated and they weren’t investing as much, but I can only say good things about the club since they came back into the WSL. The investments and plans they’ve made are amazing. I’m just happy to be part of a team that is pushing for women’s football and women’s rights in general.
“My aim this year is to get back in the England squad, so I’m hopefully going to have a good pre-season under my belt and get firing again, because by my own standards, last year wasn’t the best, but I don’t think it was for many people. I think the past year with the pandemic played a big part in [the timing of my move]. It was really difficult being away from family and my boyfriend. I felt the time was right."
Speaking ahead of attending Sunday’s men’s final at Wembley, Duggan continued: “Seeing what [England men] the men have done has inspired me so much, with the [women’s] Euros next year on home soil.
“We’ve got to three semi-finals in the past so to see the lads push past that boundary against Denmark was incredible. I was buzzing, because of my own experience as well – three semi-finals, it takes its toll. It’s tough. You think ‘what more do we have to do?’ and it was great to see the lads push through that.”
Analysis: Everton continue to impress in the transfer market
Duggan’s return at the end of her contract in Madrid represents another astute piece of business from Everton, who have enjoyed a very productive summer transfer window so far.
Having already signed France’s Kenza Dali and Sweden duo Anna Anvegard and Nathalie Bjorn, Kirk’s team have now added a former WSL winner to their ranks in Duggan. Despite four years away from the WSL, with 36 goals, Duggan is joint 12th alongside Eniola Aluko on the WSL’s all-time goalscorers’ list.
Telegraph Sport also understands Everton are poised to complete the signings of Juventus’ Aurora Galli and Germany defender Leonie Maier, as their recruitment of experienced international-calibre players continues.
The club’s proactive, early summer business could give them the edge in pre-season over some of their rivals, not least Manchester United, who remain in search of a new manager and are yet to unveil any summer signings so far. Fourth-placed United finished 15 points clear of fifth-placed Everton in the table last year.
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