Football-England team changed society, says coach Wiegman
England changed society with their win at the European Women’s Championship, coach Sarina Wiegman said after leading the Lionesses to their first-ever major title on Sunday, sparking scenes of jubilation across the country.
Wiegman’s side beat eight-time champions Germany 2-1 after extra time at Wembley Stadium in front of a record crowd (87,912) in a tournament that broke week-on-week records and drew huge media coverage in Europe. The attendance record for a Women’s Euro was broken halfway through the tournament in England and the host country were still in the headlines as they reached their third major final, finally crossing the line.
“I think we’ve really made a change. I think this tournament has done so much for the game but also for society and women in society in England but I also think in Europe and across the world and hopefully that it will make a (bigger) change too,” Wiegman said at a press conference. “It’s really, really nice to see what we saw today when we walked into the stadium, how excited everyone was and how supportive the fans were.”
Wiegman led his native Netherlands to the previous Euro title in 2017 and took control of England in September last year, turning the team into a winning machine as they failed to still lost under the Dutch. They entered the tournament as heavy favorites but among a packed field and were tested by serial winners Germany, who came back from a goal in a physically demanding final to go extra time.
However, it was one of Wiegman’s shrewd replacements ever present in England’s run to the final, Manchester City striker Chloe Kelly who popped up with the winning goal. The coach acknowledged that expectations were extremely high for England, who had not enjoyed success in men’s or women’s football since the 1966 Men’s World Cup final, an extra-time win against Germany from West.
But she would be unconvinced whether they can now challenge for the World Cup title in Australia and New Zealand next year, insisting now is the time to let it go. “So now that we’ve won the Euros, expectations are going to skyrocket again! First, we have to celebrate. We’re really proud of how we’ve achieved it. We’ve all seen the development of this game go away so fast that many countries could win this tournament,” she said.
“It’s not easy to win this tournament. And it’s going to be the same as the World Cup next year… But now it’s party time and then we’ll have some free time and then we are going to prepare for the World Cup Qualification, then the World Cup and I hope we will do well.”
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