The world of women’s football has been set ablaze by the extraordinary talent of England’s forward, Lauren James. The 21-year-old sensation, hailing from Marlow in Buckinghamshire, has left fans and pundits alike in awe with her dazzling performances at the Women’s World Cup in Australia.
In a spectacular display of skill, James scored two goals and provided three assists, propelling England to a resounding 6-1 victory over China. Such a feat is no surprise to her father, Nigel James, who proudly holds the distinction of being the first father in history to have children representing both the men’s and women’s England teams.
Speaking with overflowing pride, Nigel stated, “Everyone who has seen Lauren play from six or seven-years-old knows how good she is. It’s brilliant, it’s quality, but that’s Lauren.” He recounts how she has dedicated her life to football, a passion that has burned within her since she was a child.
As a youngster, Lauren fearlessly competed against boys, honing her skills by training with top academy players, some of whom now grace the Premier League. Under the watchful eye of her father, Lauren played alongside her brother Reece and fellow talents like Conor Gallagher, molding her into the football powerhouse she is today.
Lauren’s journey to greatness began when she trained with Arsenal women at the tender age of 13. She later joined Manchester United’s Women’s Championship team before finding her place at Chelsea in 2021. Her exceptional talents did not go unnoticed, and in 2022, she made her England debut, marking the start of an incredible international career.
While his daughter shines on the world stage, Nigel James remains grounded, still managing his coaching business and guiding young aspirants towards achieving their dreams. Reflecting on the siblings’ upbringing, he fondly recalls how football was an integral part of their daily lives, playing together with friends or practicing on their own, driven by an unyielding passion for the sport.
As the Women’s World Cup unfolds in Australia, Nigel finds himself caught between coaching commitments and paternal responsibilities. He plans to travel to Australia for the latter stages of the tournament, ensuring he plays his part in supporting Lauren.
When asked about watching the games from home, he said, “I’ve just been watching at home in my own peace with friends and family. When she scored, we just looked at each other, and then at the screen, and then gave each other a cuddle. You just think, ‘Wow’.”
Nigel’s pride in his daughter’s achievements is magnified by the historical significance of their family’s legacy. They are the first family in England’s history to produce two kids – a male and a female – who have both played for the national teams. This unique distinction fills him with immense pride, not only as a father but as a representative of the sport’s rich heritage.
Lauren’s father has been her unwavering pillar of support, offering words of encouragement and praise after her incredible performance against China. “I spoke to her after the game and told her how proud I was,” he shared. “To keep going, keep believing, get her rest and go again. She just said, ‘Thanks dad’.”
Having witnessed Lauren’s journey from a young age, Nigel James firmly believes that her ascent to the top was inevitable. While acknowledging the focus on fitness and defensive work during her development, he emphasizes the importance of recognizing and nurturing a player’s exceptional talents, a belief that has proven crucial in shaping his daughter’s remarkable skills.
In awe of her exceptional ball manipulation and technique, Nigel compares her to legends like Diego Maradona and Ronaldinho. “We don’t see too many players like that anymore, so to see it on the female side is just ‘wow’.”
Lauren James now stands as the joint-second top scorer in the Women’s World Cup, just one goal behind Japan’s Hinata Miyazawa. Her incredible performances have sparked discussions about her potential to win the Ballon d’Or Féminin in the future. When asked about this possibility, James humbly states, “She can take it as far as she wants. If she remains fit and keeps developing, why not?”
As the Lionesses prepare to face Nigeria in the last-16 tie, all eyes are on Lauren James, the bright star illuminating English football and captivating fans across the globe. Her journey from a talented young girl in Marlow to a global football icon has been nothing short of remarkable. As she continues to dazzle audiences and make history, one thing is certain – the legacy of the James family in English football will be forever etched in the annals of the sport.