Beth Mead has been named the PFA Women’s Young Player of the Year 2016.

Beth Mead enjoyed a sensational first season among the elite in 2015, top-scoring in FA WSL1 with 12 goals in 14 games as Sunderland took flight following their promotion. The 20-year-old striker was named the FA WSL1 Players’ Player of the Year, a measure of the respect her opponents have for her, and Vauxhall’s Young England Player of the Year.

A direct and pacey forward who likes to play off the shoulder of the last defender, Mead has the habit of scoring goals out of nothing. 

She prospered against the best teams, scoring in a televised first game of the season at then WSL1 champions Liverpool and plundering a hat-trick against eventual champions Chelsea.

Mead also played a big part in the WSL2 champions continuing to upset the odds. Good on the ball and keeping it when necessary, she can play high up the pitch and looks to bring her team-mates into the action, which is important as the lone striker. There is also a willingness to work hard on the counter-attack to try and get in behind defences, and to chase hard when the team don’t have possession.

This team ethos and desire to prove herself may have been borne by playing in boys’ teams in her formative years before she joined Middlesbrough’s centre of excellence.

She moved to Sunderland in 2011, scoring 23 goals in as many games to help them win the Women’s Premier League. Although she is full-time at Sunderland, Mead has committed to completing her studies at university. 

She has experience within the England youth ranks as well – scoring an internet sensation of a goal against Mexico in the 2014 Under-20 World Cup in Canada - and has trained with Mark Sampson’s senior squad, although she has yet to take to the field and play with them.