ENGLAND star Rachel Daly has been sent a message from her former York College football coach ahead of tomorrow's World Cup final: "Make everybody proud."

Gordon Staniforth said his message went out to all the Lionesses ahead of their historic showdown with Spain in Australia on Sunday morning.

Retired York City footballer and former national coach Gordon said he believed the Lionesses could go all the way and lift the World Cup.

And he said Rachel - the one-time star of his team - could help the Lionesses make history.

“I’ve always said, and it’s confirmed now with this tournament, that she is world class," he added.

York Press: Rachel Daly and Lucy Staniforth have represented England since they were junior footballersRachel Daly and Lucy Staniforth have represented England since they were junior footballers (Image: The FA)

Gordon said that with help from his daughter Lucy Staniforth – herself an England international – he convinced Rachel to join York College in the noughties when he was co-ordinator of its sports development centre.

Rachel was born in Harrogate and lived there at the time Gordon was working at the York campus.

Gordon said: “My bargaining tool was my daughter Lucy.

“They were big friends and they played football together at a lower age group but Lucy had moved to Newcastle.


“Between us we persuaded Rachel to come and study a BTEC sports and development course for two years.

“The first year she came on a train every day. That’s dedication for you.

“We had some work to do to get her to come over.”

Teammates at Aston Villa, Rachel and Lucy have been friends since they were children and Lucy travelled to Australia on the Lionesses’ standby list.

York Press: Rachel Daly studied and played at York College in the noughtiesRachel Daly studied and played at York College in the noughties (Image: York College)

Daly, 31, has scored twice in this world cup and a win on Sunday will cap off a year where she has won the Women’s Super League player of the season, the golden boot with 22 league goals and been nominated for the PFA player of the year award.

York College has a very good reputation for its football development centre.

In the last two seasons the college women’s team has won two national honours and finished runners-up at the Association of Colleges national finals.

Gordon said he and assistant Jamie Rank built the foundations and always wanted the best players from the region to come – to play football and to study.

Gordon said: “We had a very good team and Rachel was the star.

“Early on, she was training on the 3G pitch, one or two of the footballers came to have a look and then gradually, three or four others came and said ‘Wow!’.

“She could just hit a ball as lovely, and as sweet and further than some of the boys and they just thought it was fantastic.”

He had no doubts at all when Rachel stepped up to take one of the penalties in the round-of-16 tie against Nigeria in this year’s world cup.

Gordon manged UK women’s football pioneers Doncaster Belles and also England Colleges women’s team, where he said Rachel played throughout one season.

“Her brain was different, she was light years ahead, she could see where the next pass was going.

“Technically, her touch is fantastic – that’s enabled her to play in several positions.

“She played in midfield for us because she could get up and down and was very athletic."

Gordon also worked for the Football Association and dedicated himself to women’s football. He remembers his daughter and Rachel playing in the Under 17s world cup in New Zealand in 2008.

York Press: Rachel Daly in her York College playing daysRachel Daly in her York College playing days (Image: York College)

Of the development of the team to Euro 2022 and world cup success, he said: “This is an accumulation of lots of hard work, investment and girls wanting to play football.

“My daughter and Rachel have been professional footballers since they were seventeen.

“They’ve done exactly what I did and had a career in football.

“The role models have been fantastic in the last four years.

Gordon’s will be watching the final on TV at home with his two dogs, black Labradors Charlie and Daisy.

He keeps the sound off and his coaching hat firmly on, watching out for the next pass or move.

He said he felt certain that England were going to win after watching the semi-final performance.

He said his message to Rachel and the team would be: “Make everybody proud.”

Lucy was speaking to the team and Rachel, on the phone or messaging, late into the night after Wednesday’s heroics against co-hosts Australia.

Her dad said: “When you’ve won a semi-final, what do you do? You ring people.”