THE significance of England’s Women’s Euro 2022 triumph was clear in the celebrations that followed Sunday’s victory over Germany. Not one of the 90,000 in attendance left Wembley as nervous energy turned to unbridled jubilation after full time. This seminal moment was about much more than just a football match.
Women’s football in England will never be the same again. A culture shift has taken place. Everyone within English football now has a duty to ensure this moment is used as a catalyst for further growth because the Lionesses can still achieve even more. There is, after all, a Women’s World Cup just around the corner.
On the basis of their performances at Women’s Euro 2022, England will be counted among the favourites in Australia and New Zealand next year. As European champions, Sarina Wiegman’s team have proved themselves in a tournament setting and have the quality to compete against anyone in the women’s game.
England have made the semi-finals of the last two Women’s World Cups. They are already established as one of the best international teams in the women’s game, but winning Women’s Euro 2022 will embolden their current crop further. There’s no reason to believe the Lionesses can’t use this summer’s success as a springboard.
Sarina Wiegman's record at major tournaments 👀
— DAZN Football (@DAZNFootball) July 31, 2022
“One is not enough – we want more,” Chloe Kelly, who scored the winning goal against Germany in the Women’s Euro 2022 final, said. “Looking at this medal makes you so much hungrier for more. The World Cup is around the corner. I want to win trophies. As a young girl you grow up seeing people win trophies and we’re here doing that.”
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of England’s Women’s Euro 2022 triumph is that it was achieved with an emergent group of youngsters pushing their way into the first team. Wiegman favoured experience from the start with Ellen White, Lucy Bronze and Rachel Daly all veterans with 266 caps between them, but the players who made the difference were frequently of a younger generation.
Barring injury and misfortune, 22-year-old Ella Toone is almost certain to be a key figure for England for a long time to come. Alessia Russo will surely take over from White as the Lionesses attacking focal point at some point in the future while Lauren Hemp, still only 21, is on an upward trajectory for club and country.
Of course, England will most likely have to take out the USA to win the Women’s World Cup for the first time next year. They remain the dominant superpower of women’s football, winning back-to-back World Cups in 2015 and 2019, but there is a growing sense that the 2023 tournament will witness the rise of several European nations. England could be one of them.
“They’re the holders of the World Cup and they’re the ones that knocked us out in 2019,” Lucy Bronze said in reference to the USA and their status as the number one ranked team in the world. “We know there are plenty of teams outside of Europe who want to compete for that World Cup as well as the teams in Europe who were in this tournament. I guess it’s up for grabs and we’re in a good place at the minute.”
Next year’s Women’s World Cup comes at the perfect time for England. Their current squad has a good mix of experience and youth and in Wiegman the Lionesses boast one of the best managers in the international game. On top of this, the USA are in the midst of a generational transition. They might not be as strong as they have been at past Women’s World Cup.