During their march to Euro 2022 glory, the Lionesses were under immense pressure.
As tournament hosts, the players and head coach Sarina Wiegman knew they had a golden opportunity to go all the way and inspire the nation.
Their victory over Germany in the final at Wembley on July 31 will never be forgotten and, although the Euros are over, the pressure on this side will not relent. Indeed, as they prepare to return to action against Austria tomorrow, it is set to ramp up.
The Lionesses are now household names, meaning there is an expectation on them to live up to their billing.
During the Euros, they coped with the pressure well and tomorrow they have the chance to show that mental strength as they look to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
England are top of their qualifying group and four points clear of nearest rivals Austria, knowing a point in Vienna will be enough to secure qualification.
“It’s a target on your back, but pressure is a privilege and we have to see it as that,” said defender Rachel Daly. “Of course, there will be pressure on us, but right now we’re focused on qualifying for the World Cup. England are a team that are feared — they have been for many years.
“We’ve set in place who we are, and also now we are European champions — and that is something you have got to look at with a great deal of respect. The pressure is probably on our back now. I don’t think anything needs to change off the back of a successful summer, we know what we need to do, we know what Austria are about.”
After veteran striker Ellen White announced her retirement last month, Alessia Russo is expected to lead the line tomorrow. Ella Toone, another Euros super-sub, could also start because Fran Kirby is missing through injury. Chelsea youngster Lauren James will hope to make her debut off the bench.