How England Women have changed football for good after Euro 2022 final win vs Germany
England Women secured the country’s first major football trophy since 1966 with their win over Germany on Sunday.
When I was a child there really wasn’t much encouragement to play or watch women’s football.
I played for my school team which was relatively small until they organised a trip to Florida which was met by a flurry of new members dying to visit Disneyland before getting hammered 14-0 by a much better American soccer team.
Even up till the past couple of years there still hasn’t been much motivation to wander from the wonders of the Premier League to the WSL - even as a football writer.
It has often been assumed that I will have a great knowledge of women’s football because I’m a woman myself, but I have never really taken much interest and this year’s Women’s Euros was the first time I really paid much attention.
Granted, I still missed a few games leading up to last night’s heroics, but what I did see was fantastic.
When I switched on the semi-final against Sweden last week I didn’t expect to end up with my eyes glued to the screen and arms in the air shortly after when Alessia Russo pulled off a delightful backheel goal to take the Lionesses 4-0 up.
There is no arguing that men’s football is of course a higher quality, but the performance these young players put on at Bramall Lane was spectacular and much more entertaining than most of the football we witness from Gareth Southgate’s side.
When it came to Sunday’s finale it was hard to feel too positive after the heartbreak the men had put us through - especially when Lina Magull pulled one back and forced the match to go to extra-time.
The excitement and the passion was all about to be ripped apart just like in England’s penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy last summer - however, the Lionesses’ hearts were too strong to let more disappointment shatter the country.
Another substitute and another goal came from Arsenal’s Chloe Kelly as she netted her first for the international team in what made history at Wembley Stadium.
The full-time whistle was blown and the London venue erupted, while the eleven on the pitch were joined by the staff and substitutes celebrating for much more than just the Women’s Euro trophy.
England midfielder Jill Scott, who has earned 160 caps since 2006, labelled yesterday’s victory as a ‘defining moment’ and said those who came before will never be forgotten.
The trophy lift, which was attended by a Uefa record of 87,192, shows huge progression for the women’s sport in this country, with women previously having to pay to play but continuing to carry the baton for young females around the world looking to succeed in a sport often belittled.
There will be thousands of people like me who have been truly inspired by a women’s team that they knew only little about earlier this year and the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City and Aston Villa will no doubt rake in much higher crowds in the upcoming season.
The likes of Ella Toone, Leah Williamson and Keira Walsh may have just changed the game for good - but let’s first start it with that extra bank holiday please!