In need of a compliment or a quick emotional pick-me-up, Keira Walsh might not be the one to go to, according to her Lionesses team-mates.

The Barcelona midfielder has swiftly become a household name for the style and insouciant swagger she displays in the centre of the park for club and country.

But where the 26-year-old has burnished a reputation as one of the game’s best players with trophies to tout over the last two years, she’s also earned a reputation amongst her friends as a rare but invaluable source of compliments.

Walsh’s England teammate Leah Williamson can vouch for this personally. The Arsenal centre-back asked her compatriot and BFF an assessment on the skipper’s performance at the triumphant 2022 Women's European Championships, but Walsh was characteristically scrupulous in dishing out praise for the sake of it.

“I went to Barcelona to visit her and we were just having a conversation,” Williamson recalled on the final episode of the BBC’s Tooney and Russo podcast.

“I asked her, ‘Do you think I had a good Euros?’ And she said, ‘If you didn’t, we wouldn’t have won.’ And I said, ‘That wasn’t the question. That’s what I asked you. I said do you think I played well at the Euros?’ And she just wouldn’t answer me.

“And then in the end, she finally said, ‘Do I think you grew through the tournament…?’ and I was like ‘Cheers, okay, fine, it doesn’t matter, we won anyway’,” Williamson remembers much to the mirth of England teammates Alessia Russo and Ella Toone, who laughed knowingly at the nature of the exchange.

Keira Walsh and Leah Williamson celebrate after the triumphant penalty shoot-out at the Women´s Finalissima 2023 (
Image:
Photo by Harriet Lander - The FA/The FA via Getty Images))

“To get a compliment off Keira is impossible,” Williamson added.

“If Keira says you’re a good player, that means the absolute world to you,” Toone concurred.

Williamson and Walsh have been best friends since the pair met for the first time in England’s age-grades when the duo were just 12 years old. “We were joined at the hip on Day One,” Williamson told the podcast.

Asked why, Williamson added: “I thought she's really good at football and I want to be her mate. It’s feral when you’re kids with England.”

Walsh and Williamson made an unofficial appearance on the Tooney and Russo podcast earlier this year, when the hosts were considering their lack of enthusiasm for hugging and Manchester United and England midfielder Grace Clinton’s comparative zeal for it.

Mary Earps, Keira Walsh and Leah Williamson of England celebrate with the Euro 2022 trophy

"Despite being best friends, we’re not really huggers,” Arsenal forward Russo said. “If I wanted a hug, I’d go to Grace Clinton.”

“Oh yeah, everyone would go to Grace,” Toone agreed. “But sometimes she’s too much. Dangling off my neck, and I’m like, 'Grace!'”

“Yeah, she’s just like a little sloth. That’s what I call her. She’s like a little puppy,” said Russo.

Investigating the nature of their friendship, Russo noted how Walsh and Williamson followed a similar no-hugging protocol to their friendship.

“I was talking to Leah [Williamson] on camp and she was like, ‘That’s the same with her and Keira [Walsh]," said Russo.

“Yeah, I can’t imagine them ever hugging," said Toone.

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