England manager Sarina Wiegman on Sunday said “the world will change” for her players after the Lionesses won the UEFA Women’s Euro with a 2-1 extra-time victory over Germany at a sold-out Wembley.
In front of a record crowd of 87,192 for any match in the history of the European Championships, Chloe Kelly prodded home the winner in the 110th minute to deliver England women’s first major tournament win.
“The world will change, we know that,” said Wiegman, whose post-match news conference was interrupted by the England squad singing “football’s coming home.”
“We change society and that’s what we want, that’s so much more than football,” she said. “Winning is what we are here for, our job is to do as good as possible, but through football you can make changes in society and that’s what we are here for.”
Kelly only just made Wiegman’s squad after fighting back from an anterior cruciate ligament tear to be fit in time for the tournament and made herself a national hero by being in the right place to pounce when Germany failed to clear a corner.
The Manchester City winger tore off her shirt in celebration in scenes reminiscent of Brandi Chastain’s famous reaction to scoring the winning penalty at the 1999 World Cup for the USA.
“This is what dreams are made of, as a young girl watching women’s football,” said Kelly, who broke off a post-match interview to join in a chorus of Sweet Caroline with the crowd and her teammates.
“Thank you for everyone who played a part in my rehab. I always believed I’d be here, but to be here and score the winner, wow. These girls are amazing,” she said.
England looked set for victory in the 90 minutes when substitute Ella Toone’s sublime chip over Merle Frohms put the hosts in front.
Germany showed remarkable resilience to bounce back as Lina Magull leveled 11 minutes from time.
However, 56 years on from England’s last major tournament win in either the men’s or women’s game, they were not to be denied a major tournament success.
Queen Elizabeth II led the tributes to the Lionesses, calling them “an inspiration for girls and women today, and for future generations.”
Fortune did not favor Germany, who lost captain and top goalscorer Alexandra Popp to a muscle injury in the warm-up.
German boss Martina Voss-Tecklenburg was also furious that a penalty was not awarded in the first half for a handball by England captain Leah Williamson.
England probably feel their time for some luck was due as 12 months on from the Three Lions’ defeat on penalties to Italy in the Euro 2020 men’s final, the nation’s women went one better.
“I can’t stop crying. We talk and we talk and we’ve finally done it,” Williamson said. “It’s the proudest moment of my life. I’m taking in every single second because I’ll want to relive this for a long time.”
London erupted in delight at the win, with fans turning Trafalgar Square into a giant party and some even diving into its famous fountains to celebrate
“I think they’re wonderful,” Maggie Maybury, 67, from London, said at the fan zone. “Everyone’s going to love them. They will just be the darlings. It’s going to be good for women’s sports.”
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