Sport

Sarina Wiegman: ‘It was so tight but who cares? We are European champions’

Sarina Wiegman described her team’s historic feat as “unbelievable” as England became European champions for the first time, in front of more than 87,000 at Wembley. In both a gruelling and magical afternoon at Wembley, the Lionesses battled past Germany 2-1 in extra time, making history as they lifted their first major trophy.

Wiegman, having been appointed as England manager less than 12 months previously, masterminded yet another victory for her team. The Lionesses remain unbeaten under her tenure, the 18th victory of the 20 games she has been in charge.

Known for her ruthlessness and high standards, her second‑half substitutes proved the difference as they have so often this tournament. In a game of close margins, every ounce of energy counted in the narrowest of encounters.

“It was so tight but who cares?” Wiegman said. “We won 2-1 and we are European champions.

“If you really want to win and become better every single day, that’s what I have noticed the whole year. It’s been incredible. We agreed a couple of things on behaviours, they weren’t just words, we lived it. And this is the result.”

Over the past three weeks the resilience of this England side has been clear to see and it was required in abundance. It was a contest that threatened to boil over at times, with a raft of tenacious challenges from both sides.

With half an hour to go in normal time, the Lionesses took the lead in sublime fashion. Keira Walsh picked out the run of Ella Toone with her trademark vision. The substitute, on the pitch only minutes before, lifted a sweetly struck lob over Merle Frohms in the Germany goal.

Alessia Russo, her England and Manchester United teammate, had every confidence as she watched Toone break the defensive line. “As soon as she got put through, I knew it was going in the back of the net,” she said. “That’s because she can do it on the biggest stage of all.”

The drama was only just beginning. Germany struck a late blow to English hearts as Lina Magull proved deadly once more in front of goal. However, the Lionesses rallied in extra time when the substitute Chloe Kelly remained alert at the corner to fire home the winner with 10 minutes to play, her first goal for her country.

“This is what dreams are made of,” she said. “As a young girl watching women’s football and now this, it’s unbelievable. These girls are special, the manager is special, and what a special group of staff. This is amazing. All my family are in the crowd. My mum, all my brothers, my sister, all my nephews, everyone. I just want to celebrate.”

Leah Williamson was equally delighted, lifting the trophy for her country in the first year of her captaincy. “It’s the proudest moment of my life, until the day I have kids I suppose. I am going to lap it up,” she said.

“Every single piece of advice I got was to take every single second in because you’re going to want to relive it over and over and I’ll be reliving that for a long time.”

Williamson had a special word for the younger generation of players who, along with her, have achieved something never done before.

“With something like this,” the captain said, “we talk and talk, and we have finally done it. It’s about doing it on the pitch, and I tell you what, the kids are all right.

“The legacy of this tournament is a change in society. “It’s everything we’ve done. We’ve brought everyone together. We’ve got people to come to games and we want them to come to WSL games, but the legacy of this team is winners and this is the start of the journey.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button