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(Reuters) - England forward Beth Mead described soccer as her "safe space" from setbacks off the pitch, saying she uses the sport as an escape from difficulties in her personal life and to bounce back from disappointments.
The 27-year-old, who missed out on selection for last year's Tokyo Olympics, leads the goal-scoring charts at the European Championship heading into Sunday's final against eight-times champions Germany at Wembley Stadium.
"Football is my safe space, a place for me to escape sometimes," Mead told British media on Saturday. "Probably watching me play football it's looked all fine and dandy as it has been going well. I've had difficulties off the pitch this year.
"I've used my football to get rid of the emotions that I've had off the pitch. I was frustrated at times last year and wanted to play better but it's easier said than done. You want to go on the pitch and do your best but sometimes things don't always go right.
"I was putting a lot of pressure on myself and overthinking a lot of things. Enjoying it and playing freely has been the biggest thing that's helped me this year."
Mead and Germany's Alexandra Popp have scored six goals apiece at the Euros but the England forward tops the Golden Boot race thanks to registering four assists so far.
The Arsenal winger said she followed the England men's team at last year's Euros while the women's team were in Tokyo. Mead added she spoke to former Lionesses for advice but did not think at the time that she would be competing at Euro 2022.
"Last July I was at the point where I was a little bit disappointed with everything," Mead said. "I had a few good conversations with some England legends - Casey Stoney, Kelly Smith... I spoke to a few people.
"They told me to get my head down, work hard and get enjoyment back in my play again. All credit to them. Their advice made me feel great.
"I loved the (men's) final, the atmosphere was insane. It was a night that I remembered for a long time. I didn't think a year later I would be in a final at Wembley playing for my country but dreams can come true."
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Hyderabad; Editing by Himani Sarkar)