KATHRYN BATTE: Lethal Lauren James is every defender’s nightmare – and she’s living up to her ‘cheat code’ nickname at the Women’s World Cup
Two goals – right foot, left foot. Three assists – right foot, left foot, header. Lauren James can do it all.
As Emma Hayes, her Chelsea manager, said on commentary: ‘We are witnessing brilliance.’
Even England boss Sarina Wiegman, who usually refuses to talk about individual performances, said James does ‘special things’ on the pitch.
James scored with a superb strike from outside the box in the first half before adding a sublime volley in the second.
Had it not been for a contentious VAR decision, which ruled out another phenomenal goal, she would have helped herself to a historic World Cup hat-trick.
Lauren James’ explosive talent has been on display since her first run-out in an England jersey
She made history with five goal involvements and was one unlucky VAR call from a hat-trick
There was a sign in the crowd that read: ‘Lauren James is better than Reece.’ The forward’s brother has been watching her games from Chelsea’s pre-season tour. He said at the end of last year that his sister was ‘the best player in the world and will be for the next 10-15 years’.
It seemed premature at the time, but James is quickly becoming one of the most valuable players on the planet.
The Chelsea forward is quiet and reserved off the pitch but has bonded with the experienced Lucy Bronze, who is acting as a mentor.
Her team-mates are in awe of her talent, but recognise she still needs guidance and support.
James is still just 21 but after three games she has been involved in the most goals of any player at a World Cup – and she did not even start the first match.
Her two goals and three assists saw her become the first England player, male or female, to be involved in five goals in a game at a World Cup.
Leah Williamson previously described James as ‘cheat code’, a phrase used in gaming where people use a code to skip levels. It is a nickname that has stuck.
‘It’s just nice for the rest of the world to see how good she is. Cheat code as everyone is calling her. That’s what she is,’ Rachel Daly said of James.
James has an important mentor within the side in the form of Barcelona’s Lucy Bronze (centre)
Millie Bright (right) captains James for England and plays alongside her at Chelsea in the WSL
‘She is a nightmare for defenders to defend as the ball just sticks to her. She’s lethal.’
England captain Millie Bright sees James’s talent week-in, week-out at Chelsea and expressed her pride for her ‘ridiculous’ teammate.
‘Seeing the youngsters grow and Lauren grow – I see at her at club and now we’re seeing her at country level.
‘It’s unbelievable to be in the same team as them. It feels ridiculous and I’m quite proud. I feel great about the atmosphere and culture we have in our group. Players feeling like they can express themselves on the pitch is what we want.’