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The only man to fire England to a major trophy believes Euros success for the Lionesses this summer could have a huge impact on the development of the women’s game in the country.
It is 56 years since Sir Geoff Hurst scored a hat-trick as England beat West Germany 4-2 at Wembley to lift the World Cup.
Since 1966, England’s men have failed to add to that success – with their penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy in last year’s Euro 2020 final the closest they have come.
Now the women’s team have a chance to make an impact on home soil as they head into the Euros as one of the favourites.
Sarina Wiegman’s side approach the finals in fine form and will have the backing of the crowds as they look to win their first piece of major silverware.
Hurst feels a successful summer for England can bring about lasting improvement to the women’s game in the country.
“It’s fantastic to represent your country in a major tournament,” he told the PA news agency.
“Just those things, playing in a major tournament, in your own country, the chance of playing at Wembley – it is just absolutely fantastic and a huge opportunity and I’m sure the players are going to be terribly excited to be part of that.
“If they can dream that far, it’d be absolutely amazing to have a final at Wembley again and, importantly, I think the tournament itself will attract more young women, young girls to the game, which we’ve seen a gradual improvement over the years.
“It’ll have an unbelievably significant influence on even more young girls wanting to play the game. It’s just absolutely sensational.
“It doesn’t matter how far England go in terms of bringing eyes to the game, but if they won it, that could change the landscape of women’s football in this country for generations to come.”
Hurst also believes any success should trickle down the football pyramid to help those just starting to find their feet in the game.
“As much as we would like to see England do well, grassroots football is the important world,” he added.
“Getting them in now and over a period of time would be a major move forwards.
“The coverage of women’s football has been fantastic. I think when games are seen on TV and you see the women’s footballers talking or doing an advert on TV and seeing them becoming well known in their own right and young girls watching that, it’s a such a major influence on them wanting to play the game and get involved in the game.”
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