Millie Bright has been a defensive rock for an England side who have conceded just one goal in Holland. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA
As befits a Chelsea centre-half, Millie Bright takes inspiration from John Terry. She hopes to use it to accomplish something her role model never achieved – winning a major tournament with England.
While Terry swapped Stamford Bridge for Villa Park this summer, the 23-year-old Bright has made the most of her surprise summons to Mark Sampson’s squad by displacing Laura Bassett in defence.
Bright’s burgeoning partnership with Manchester City’s Steph Houghton represents one reason why England have conceded only one goal in four games at Euro 2017 and approach Thursday’s semi-final against Holland in Enschede in confident mood.
“I’ve always looked up to John Terry, he’s a massive defender and a rock,” Bright said. “His one-v-one defending and reading of the game have really educated me. I watch a lot of clips of him.”
Terry’s example has taught Bright, who is being followed around the Netherlands by a full squad of devoted family members complete with special “Millie” banner, the importance of positioning. “It’s the basis of Terry’s game,” she said. “Everything else falls into place from positioning.”
Instinct also plays a big part. “I try not to overthink things. If you think too much, that’s when the mistakes come in. Keep it basic is what I’ve been doing well – winning my headers and making sure I win my one-v-one battles. Often your natural instinct tells you whether to hold or go.”
Those three clean sheets vindicate Sampson’s faith in her but Bright, left, is particularly proud of preventing France from scoring during England’s 1-0 quarter-final win.
“France are a top team,” she said. “We stayed tight as a unit against them and if it meant putting the ball down the channel so be it. We strive to be better each game – and stopping France from scoring shows how far we’ve come as a back four.”