England head coach Sarina Wiegman hopes this summer’s home Euros will be an opportunity for her Lionesses to capture the hearts of the footballing world.
All of England’s group games and the final at Wembley have already sold out for this summer’s tournament, which kicks off at Old Trafford on July 6 when Wiegman’s team take on Austria.
Much has been made of England’s chances of winning the tournament, with the Lionesses among the favourites, but the former Dutch coach is also hoping her team win over a few fans along the way.
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“We’re all so excited about [tickets selling out] because we know where we come from,” Wiegman told Sky Sports News. “Now we have this big event here, we’re really excited about this tournament, and we know we can make a difference.
“I hope after this tournament people say, ‘This was the biggest, most exciting event I’ve ever been to and I’m so proud of the English lionesses. And my little kid or my nephew or cousin or niece, they want to wear the shirt of Williamson or whoever plays’, and that we changed the world for every boy and girl so that the women’s game gets so stable.
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“We really want to show our fans that how good we are, that we are a team, that we collaborate as a team and we play really well and win games because of course it’s all about winning games. And that when they leave the game after watching us, they say, ‘Wow, I want to be part of this. I want to be close to the women’s game and to our players’, and really want to visit the next game.”
Wiegman on her journey: I didn’t know I could be a coach!
Wiegman hopes England can become closer to the fans at the Euros
When Wiegman was growing up at the age of six or seven, she was not allowed to play football, and had no idea that one day she would grow up to earn 100 caps for the Netherlands before becoming a coach at international level.
To combat the lack of opportunities she had to play football as a young girl, Wiegman used her short haircut to pretend to be a boy and joined her twin brother’s team.
It is a far cry from where she finds herself now, having coached the Netherlands to Euro success in 2017 and looking to do the same with England in 2022.
Asked if she ever thought the Women’s game would be at this level in 2022, she said: “No, not at all. I wouldn’t even think that I could be a professional coach because you couldn’t be a coach at that time.
“When you’re six, you don’t think about coaching, but I always thought I was going to be a PE teacher because I can’t be involved in the women’s game, as a coach or just on an amateur basis.
“But now I’m here and part of a nice journey and hopefully the game keeps growing and growing and all girls have opportunities to be involved in football or whatever they want to be.”
Who does Wiegman think are the favourites?
England are among the favourites for this summer's Euros
Wiegman says it is too tough to call an outright favourite at this summer’s tournament, but predicts the level of performances to go up another notch.
“Yeah, well, I think the game has developed so much and I think there are lots of countries that are really good at the moment and should be favourites, so you know a lot of countries talk about Spain,” Wiegman added.
“I think we are doing really good too. The Netherlands are the holders, Germany is always good, France is good, Sweden always does well.
“So I think it’s going to be really tight and that’s exciting about this tournament too. It’s going to be the biggest event. But I think the level of the games has improved and will be improved again.
“I think this season we’re improving very much, but you never know because it’s football and it’s going to be so tight. And of course we have a dream and we will approach every game to win it but the other countries will do so too.
“So yes, I hope we do [win it]. We have to get the best out of ourselves as a team and as individuals, and then we’ll see how far we get.”
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