How Rachel Daly plays in honour of her late father
Rachel Daly’s inspiration: Star Lioness plays in honour of her late father Martyn who passed away suddenly from sepsis in 2021
- Rachel Daly lost her Dad Martyn Daly suddenly in 2021
- READ MORE: Lioness Esme Morgan makes friendship bracelets for her teammates as they prepare to achieve glory in the World Cup Final
She one of England’s top stars, consistently delivering for the Lionesses at the Women’s World Cup.
But Rachel Daly has battled heartbreak while playing in Sydney, after losing her father Martyn Daly suddenly in 2021.
The centre-forward, 31, wears a wristband with ‘Dad’ on it and says he is her inspiration for playing.
Speaking to ITV last year, the Aston Villa star said: ‘He was the reason I played football, going back to birth really’.
‘I don’t think I’d have got that passion for the game if it wasn’t for him’.
Martyn passed away suddenly in September 2021, nine days before Daly netted in England’s record 10-0 win against Luxembourg.
Rachel Daly has battled heartbreak while playing in Sydney, after losing her father Martyn Daly suddenly in 2021
Martyn, once a semi-professional forward with Harrogate Town, had fostered Daly’s love of football. She recalls him putting her in goal over the park and blasting shots in her direction.
They travelled to Leeds United matches when they lit up the Premier League in the early Noughties, often listening to Celine Dion’s rendition of River Deep en route, hence Daly’s solo turn in London.
Once Martyn realised his daughter had been gifted exceptional athletic talent, he served as both firmest fan and fiercest critic, attending as many games as he could and sometimes leaving Daly in tears afterwards with stinging assessments of her performances. ‘He was very hard on me,’ she says. ‘But that’s allowed me to take criticism well, from coaches and the players.’
He also arranged to watch all her matches in the US on television. Daly, a forward for her club, knew something was wrong when she broke Houston’s scoring record on September 10 but could not then make contact with her dad.
Pictured: Rachel Daly seen kissing her wristband after scoring England’s third penalty against Nigeria
It turned out that he had developed a urinary tract infection and was too unwell to respond. His body reacted badly to it and Martyn developed sepsis.
Within six days he was dead. ‘He liked to drink, so his liver wasn’t the strongest,’ Daly, previously told MailSport. ‘He had been ill earlier on in the summer and was in a hospital for a few days with it.’
Daly was due to join up with England a day later for their World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg. After some deliberation, the family decided Martyn would not want her to turn down the opportunity.
When she scored in stoppage-time of a 10-0 rout, her team-mates formed a huddle around Daly and allowed her emotions to run.
‘I saw a different light in every person when that happened,’ she says. ‘When you face something like that, the people that get around you, and support you, are the ones that you’ll remember for ever. That’s something that makes this team so special. They are family away from family.’
Once Martyn realised his daughter had been gifted exceptional athletic talent, he served as both firmest fan and fiercest critic, attending as many games as he could and sometimes leaving Daly in tears afterwards with stinging assessments of her performances. ‘He was very hard on me,’ she says. ‘But that’s allowed me to take criticism well, from coaches and the players. Rachel is pictured as a child
Martyn passed away suddenly in September 2021, nine days before Daly netted in England’s record 10-0 win against Luxembourg
‘When I get on the pitch, it’s not just about me performing, it’s me performing to make my dad even more proud than he already was,’ she added to ITV.
‘I think I carry that weight with me, but it’s a nice weight to have because it’s every game I want to do better and better.
‘I know I’m making him proud up there.’
Taking to Instagram on the first anniversary of his passing last year, she said that she ‘won the euros for him’.
‘One year without you, Dad. Today marks the anniversary of the day you were so cruelly taken away.
Celebrating her goal-winning shot, Rachel immediately kissed her wristband – which had ‘DAD’ handwritten on it
‘And though each day I’m full of sadness that you’re no longer here, the influence you left on me still guides me through each day, month, year,’ she added.
‘I miss everything about you, but mainly your bear hugs & life advice. What we shared will never die, it will forever remain in my heart. The legacy you left behind is what guides me while we are apart.
‘This year has been a whirlwind— I’ve made memories that will last forever. I won the euros on home soil, your beautiful baby grandson was brought into the world, I moved home to be beside our incredible family. Just to name a few. But what I’d give for one more day to share these memories with you.
‘Hope you are having a Stella up there big fella. I miss you more than you could ever know. All my love always, Rachey xxxx’ she went on.
The kissing of the bracelet was a trend started by Lioness coach Sarina Wiegman in at the 2022 Euros.
Sarina calmly walked onto the pitch and was seen kissing a bracelet on her right wrist.
She later revealed the gesture was a tribute to her late sister, who had died in the lead-up to the tournament.
After scoring her penalty against Nigeria, Daly celebrated by immediately kissing her wristband – which has ‘DAD’ written on it.
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