PE teacher of Wigan borough's England star Ella Toone reveals she was a real 'Sport Billy'!

Euros hero Ella Toone is no stranger to sporting glory - having enjoyed her first successes on the Wigan scene!

By Paul Kendrick
Tuesday, 2nd August 2022, 11:21 am
Updated Tuesday, 2nd August 2022, 11:34 am

The 22-year-old from Tyldesley – a schoolmate of Olympian Keely Hodgkinson – scored England's opening goal against Germany in Sunday's final.

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But she could easily have been representing her country at another sport, with football only one of her many talents.

Ella Toone with Simon Rigby, her PE teacher at Fred Longworth High School

"Ella was 'Sport Billy' at school - anything we asked her to do, she did," said Simon Rigby, her PE teacher at Fred Longworth High School.

"She even represented our indoor rowing team, she would get involved with anything to do with sport.

"There were lots of sports she represented Wigan schools at...I remember tennis, she also did netball, swimming water, polo, athletics, she won the Wigan schools cross country.

"And Ella was also such a brilliant student, what you see now is what you get from her.

"She's such a good role model, she'll happily come back into school and give her time to the students.

"I know as soon as she can she'll be back to show off her medal, and there'll be a big party because she's well-known in the town, it'll be on the Richter scale!

Ella, who plays in the Women's Super League for Manchester United, has remained true to her roots since hitting the big time.

"She got me tickets for the first game at Old Trafford, but that extended the reach of what she could do!" Simon laughed.

"Obviously family comes first and there would have been a few more requests for the final!

"I messaged her the day before the final and just told her to enjoy it and soak it all in.

"I watched the final at home and it was a nerve-racking experience, but what a fantastic finish and we're all so proud.

"That goal on Sunday has ensured a place in the heart of everyone in the country."

Simon is happy Ella now has the platform to showcase her talents, something which hasn't been there up to this point.

"She always showed great promise as a kid, but you could never see something like this happening because the infrastructure just wasn't there," he said.

"Now she and the other girls have that platform, she's playing for Manchester United, her dream club, and England, and they can all push on.

"I remember when she won her first cap, and she scored a penalty, and I thought: 'Wow, here we go, she's going to go far this girl' - and she has!"

Peter Costello, manager of the local water polo club, remembers young Ella having to make the tough decision of concentrating on her football at the expense of other sports.

"She was only nine or 10 at the time, but she was a big part of our water polo club,” he said.

"The thing I remember is she always had loads of stamina which is a massive asset.

"She was also very good at netball, but she was offered the chance to go to Manchester United, and obviously that's what she chose to pursue.

"All the Toone family were swimmers, and her dad Nick was a water polo player.

"Her cousin Holly continued with her water polo and has just signed to go and play professionally in Hungary.”