Legacy left by Lioness Ella Toone lives on at her former college.

The England National Team are one of the favourites heading into this summer’s Women’s World Cup.

Ella Toone, from Tyldesley, is set to debut at the tournament.

In the early stages of her career, Toone attended Wigan & Leigh College.

She joined the second year of the BTEC Level 3 Sports Science course after signing with Manchester United Women’s senior team for their inaugural 2018/19 season.

Ella Toone and fellow player/student Fran Bentley outside the college building in 2018. PIC: Wigan & Leigh College

James Brabin, Toone’s personal tutor and lecturer, reminisced about the characteristics that set her apart.

“To be honest, if you didn’t follow football, you would have no idea that she was an elite athlete,” he said.

“She never mentioned her football career and was determined to achieve the highest grade she could.

“Ella was really unassuming and polite. But what really stood out with Ella was her independence.

“Despite the demands of balancing being a full-time athlete and full-time education, she was very focused and maximised the time she had.”

Toone is now a standout performer in the Women’s Super League, playing a key role in Manchester United’s title fight this season.

She is also a regular in the England Women’s National Team, where she has won four trophies and scored in Euros and Finalissima finals.

Tweet by SportBible sharing Ella Toone’s opening goal for England in the Finalissima

Brabin believes Toone has become a role model for girls and boys in the Wigan borough since graduating.

“We have all marvelled at what she has gone on to achieve,” Brabin added.

“Her natural ability will only take her so far; it has been her drive and determination that have enabled her to rise to the pinnacle of her sport.

“We are extremely proud that she chose to study with us.”

The college is Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) accredited and works with Manchester United.

Ella Toone with the FA Women’s Championship trophy after Manchester United’s 2018/19 winning season. PIC: James Boyes, Flickr

They offer Dual Career programmes for athletes to get degrees whilst competing.

Head of Sport Gareth Hayes has highlighted how Toone’s enrolment changed the process for everyone else.

“At the time, we were relatively new to this relationship with [Manchester United],” he said.

“Ella was the pilot really for us to develop our timetables, and we’d follow up with her fixtures and the team’s results.

“But alongside that, having her here allowed other students to see how she was balancing a professional lifestyle alongside her studies in terms of her diet, nutrition, training schedule and commitment to the sport.

“It’s important for us that we’re offering education alongside professional football so there’s a backup plan.

“Historically, Wigan & Leigh are rugby towns, but since we developed this partnership, the quality of student footballers coming through has increased.

“To have professional teams like Manchester United training on their doorstep, and having access to the same facilities, it’s a major plus for us.”

Toone’s legacy can be tangibly seen through a signed mural on the wall of a common area at the Leigh campus.

The mural of Ella Toone at the Wigan & Leigh College campus. PIC: Wigan & Leigh College

Hayes says it demonstrates a potential pathway for those who see it.

“It’s amazing, not only for us staff to see, but for the students,” he added.

“They see someone that’s been in their place that is now playing as an England International.

“Her career has skyrocketed, and she’s been a real inspiration to not only our female footballers here, but every student.”

Since the Women’s Euros, more girls are starting to play football.

Hayes attributes the influx of female sport at the college to the Lionesses’ success.

“There’s a whole new generation who’ve been inspired to play football from what they’ve seen on TV,” he continued.

“Some of the girls are travelling from North Wales to Leigh to come to college because they want to play for United.

“We have now got a thriving female football academy which is fantastic.”

Current students Safia Middleton-Patel and Jess Simpson have followed in Toone’s footsteps, signing their first professional contracts this year.