(Reuters) - England midfielder Lucy Staniforth intends to pay homage to her late brother at the women’s World Cup in France and says she is not the only member in the Lionesses squad who will draw inspiration from a personal tragedy at the tournament.
Tom Staniforth was on the books of Sheffield Wednesday when he died at the age of 20 after collapsing outside a York nightclub in 2001 and his sister said she wore the number 37 jersey - the same as her brother - to keep his memory alive.
“I pay homage to his career even though it was cut short,” she told British media. “I wear the number he wore at Sheffield Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, these things happen. A few of the girls have been through similar situations with their own family. All of us will try to pay tribute to them during this World Cup.”
Staniforth said she considered herself fortunate to make England’s squad given her struggles with injury.
The 26-year-old attacking midfielder tore her anterior cruciate ligament twice, missed three years of football as a result, and won her first England cap last year.
Staniforth said she turned for advice to former international Claire Rafferty, who made a successful England comeback despite rupturing her ACL three times.
“If you’d have said 12 months ago I’d be sat here, I wouldn’t have believed it,” Staniforth added. “I’ve had so many moments along the way when I thought to myself, ‘This just isn’t going to work out’.
“But there have been people like Claire Rafferty and she has done her ACL three times. I reached out to her and took inspiration from her.”
England, who are one of the favourites at this year’s tournament, begin their campaign against Scotland on June 9.
Reporting by Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly