England one step from immortality as Lionesses look to inspire football revolution with Euro 2022 triumph

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England one step from immortality as Lionesses look to inspire football revolution with Euro 2022 triumph
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The Lionesses are one game away from ending 56 years of hurt. Leah Williamson will lead out her side in front of a sell-out 90,000 crowd at Wembley on Sunday, as England bid to win Euro 2022.

For 90 minutes, all the talk of a legacy, record TV audiences and victory parades will be on hold. All that will surely follow if Sarina Wiegman’s side beat Germany to emulate the 1966 World Cup winners. For now, however, she will not allow her squad to be distracted.

England’s coach has been there and done it before, taking her native Holland all the way at Euro 2017.

“When you come in [as a new coach], you hope you connect with the players and it all works,” said Wiegman. “From the beginning [with England], there was a click and you can tell. It takes hard work too but you feel the energy, and people believe in how we want to work.

“The results have been good. We made it to the final, but we know how tight the game against Spain [in the quarter-final] was. It’s nice [to beat Sweden in the semi-finals] and I hope we can do it even better on Sunday.”

In Pictures | Women’s Euro 2022 (Semi-Final): England vs Sweden - Lionesses celebrate victory

England’s Ellen White, Hannah Hampton celebrate and teammates celebrate (REUTERS)
England’s Ellen White, Hannah Hampton celebrate and teammates celebrate (REUTERS)
Ella Toone and Rachel Daly of England celebrate (The FA via Getty Images)
Ella Toone and Rachel Daly of England celebrate (The FA via Getty Images)
England’s Beth Mead, left, celebrates after scoring her side’s first goal (AP)
England’s Beth Mead, left, celebrates after scoring her side’s first goal (AP)
England’s midfielder Fran Kirby celebrates after scoring her team fourth goal (AFP via Getty Images)
England’s midfielder Fran Kirby celebrates after scoring her team fourth goal (AFP via Getty Images)
Lucy Bronze of England celebrates scoring their side’s second goal (Getty Images)
Lucy Bronze of England celebrates scoring their side’s second goal (Getty Images)
Alessia Russo of England scores  a sublime back heel third goal whilst under pressure from Caroline Seger and Jonna Andersson of Sweden (Getty Images)
Alessia Russo of England scores a sublime back heel third goal whilst under pressure from Caroline Seger and Jonna Andersson of Sweden (Getty Images)
Alessia Russo of England celebrates scoring their side’s third goal (Getty Images)
Alessia Russo of England celebrates scoring their side’s third goal (Getty Images)
England’s coach Sarina Wiegman celebrates with England’s midfielder Jill Scott (AFP via Getty Images)
England’s coach Sarina Wiegman celebrates with England’s midfielder Jill Scott (AFP via Getty Images)
England players celebrate in the dressing room after their sides victory (The FA via Getty Images)
England players celebrate in the dressing room after their sides victory (The FA via Getty Images)
England’s Leah Williamson, left, and Ellen White celebrate (AP)
England’s Leah Williamson, left, and Ellen White celebrate (AP)
The England team form a huddle following victory (The FA via Getty Images)
The England team form a huddle following victory (The FA via Getty Images)

England’s players have fully bought into Wiegman’s approach. She has brought a calming influence to the camp, which is paying dividends.

“She tries not to get carried away,” said England defender Lucy Bronze. “In a home Euros there’s a lot of emotion. We don’t want to get carried away too much and she’s one of those people that is very process driven.”

Standing in England’s way are eight-time Euro champions Germany, who beat England 6-2 the last time the Lionesses reached a major final, in 2009, and won 2-1 the last time the two sides met at Wembley, in 2019. But this England team are a different proposition to the one that suffered disappointment in the past. They beat Germany 3-1 in the invitational Arnold Clark Cup this year and believe they can become history makers.

“I don’t think it gets much better. The final at Wembley is what it’s all about,” said Lionesses striker Alessia Russo. “The journey with these girls [in the squad] since aged 11 or 12… I don’t think we ever thought about it happening the way it has.

“It’s crazy to think all these young girls are getting to see this on the big stage. I would have dreamed of that. All the access and media is amazing. We are just normal girls really, but to see what we’re doing to the nation is really exciting.”

More than nine million fans watched the BBC’s coverage of England’s 4-0 semi-final win over Sweden, and the final is set to break the UK record for the most-watched women’s sporting event in history.

England players will each receive a bonus of £55,000 if they win on Sunday, with £1.3millon to be shared among the squad. Wiegman is due a £200,000 bonus.

The hope is that England’s success this summer will inspire more girls to play football — win on Sunday and the Lionesses could start a football revolution in this country

Skipper Williamson and Golden Boot-chasing Beth Mead are reportedly expected to be honoured by the Queen should the team go all the way.

The hope is that England’s success this summer will inspire more girls to play football — win on Sunday and the Lionesses could start a football revolution in this country.

“It makes everything 100 times better seeing the little girls in the stadium,” said England midfielder Ella Toone.

“We’re making history and it’s touching. We’re just so happy that we’ve had all this support and we want to keep inspiring even more.”

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