To say it has been a tough couple of months for Beth Mead is an understatement.
After rupturing her anterior cruciate knee ligament in November, an injury that leaves her World Cup hopes in the balance, Mead lost her mother, June, to Ovarian cancer in January.
It can be remarkable to see how the football community can rally around a player in their time of need.
From England captain Leah Williamson dedicating the Lionesses’ Arnold Clark Cup win to Mead’s mother to Arsenal’s men’s team holding up a shirt after their victory over Tottenham, the 27-year-old was overwhelmed by the support she received.
‘The football world can be an incredible place when stuff like that happens,’ Mead tells Sportsmail.
To say it has been a tough couple of months for Arsenal’s Beth Mead is an understatement
The Gunners and Lionesses star lost her mother June (L) to Ovarian cancer just two months after rupturing her anterior cruciate knee ligament
But she has been left overwhelmed by the ‘incredible’ support from the football world
‘After the passing of my mum, the football world really reached out and gave the perfect support me and my family really needed at the time.
‘Every single one of the girls over the recent months has messaged me. It shows the importance the football world can have and how it can help people.’
Mead is three months into her ACL rehab, which she says is going well. ‘I’m currently ahead of schedule, which is nice. It’s better to be ahead than behind with this injury.
‘I think it’s going to be a bit of a rollercoaster, there’s obviously going to be good and bad days.’
Mead, who has not given up hope of being fit in time for this summer’s World Cup, admits it was tough to watch England’s Arnold Clark Cup campaign from the sidelines.
‘It’s been difficult watching the games pan out with England, they did amazing but it’s not nice to watch when you can’t be a part of it.
‘It’s obviously not nice not being able to go on to the pitch when you’re at games, you can’t get involved, you can’t control anything. I think that’s been the toughest part so far.
‘The longest injury I had before was three months. I’ve done my MCL and I’ve done my ankle ligaments but you’re normally on the pitch in two months. We’re now at 11 weeks, nearly three months, it’s the longest time I’ve not been able to kick a ball.’
Mead faces a race against time to be fit for the World Cup after rupturing her ACL in November
But she at least has team-mate and partner Vivianne Miedema (L), who suffered the same injury three weeks later, to turn to for advice
The positive is that the forward has plenty of people she can turn to for advice, including her Arsenal team-mate and partner Vivianne Miedema – who suffered the same injury three weeks after Mead.
‘I’m obviously living in a house with someone else going through it too,’ Mead says.
‘I’ve spoken to Kim Little, she did hers when we both came to Arsenal. Jordan Nobbs has been through it too.
‘She’s ahead of me but I’m currently speaking to Alexia Putellas. She actually messaged me when I first did it and asked if I needed anything or help.’
Barcelona star Putellas, who suffered an ACL injury just before the Euros, beat Mead to the Ballon d’Or in November and at the FIFA Best Awards on Monday.
But Mead is no stranger to winning awards herself with the forward named BBC Sports Personality of the Year in December.
‘I can’t tell you how heavy that trophy is. I had to stand at the front with it. At the start they said, “whoever wins, you’ve got to stand up really awkwardly until the music finishes.” It felt like a life-time and I had half a leg at that point! I had DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) in my arms the next day.
Mead was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year in December after inspiring England’s success at the 2022 Women’s Euros
‘It was quite surreal to be there in general. There was some amazing people there and people I’ve looked up to for a long time like Jessica Ennis-Hill, Chris Hoy who gave me the trophy.
‘Obviously it’s such a historical award. I’ve got the trophy at home and I sit and look at it sometimes and the names that are on there, I sit and think “why am I on this trophy with them?”. Princess Anne, Mo Farah, Andy Murray, Sir Bobby [Charlton], David Beckham. Some of the names that are on there are just insane.
‘I say I’m on it, they haven’t actually got space for me on it at the minute, it’s full! So I don’t know what they’re going to do about that. Maybe they’ll stick me on the bottom.’
Mead is talking to Sportsmail at a Fun Football session for McDonald’s, for whom she is an ambassador, in association with World Book Day.
‘I’ve obviously had a chance to step back and see the impact we’re having on kids across the country. It makes me feel incredibly proud of the legacy we are building but we also have a responsibility to keep the momentum and to help inspire kids on and off the pitch.
‘That’s why I’m so passionate about what McDonald’s is doing – giving every child the chance to learn and play no matter what their circumstance. Giving the kids access to millions of free books and millions of hours of free Fun Football in 2023 is just incredible.’
The 27-year-old was speaking to Sportsmail as she celebrated McDonald’s giving away 10 million books to kids across the UK
Mead appeared as an ambassador of McDonald’s Fun Football and World Book Day in
It’s fair to say Arsenal are missing Mead’s presence in attack with just one win in their last four games. But with a League Cup final against Chelsea and a Champions League quarter-final with Bayern Munich to come, Mead is confident her team-m
‘Obviously as a top team you’re expected to win every game. The last block wasn’t our greatest. There’s been a few difficulties on and off the pitch but this block now after the internationals is quite important, a League Cup final against Chelsea, two Champions League games against Bayern [Munich] and Man City again. It’s a big month for us and I know the girls are working really hard.’
Beth Mead hosted McDonald’s Fun Football session to celebrate World Book Day as part of their commitment to give every child the chance to learn and play by providing millions of FREE books. Visit: https://www.mcdonalds.com/gb/en-gb/football/fun-football-centres.html