Lionesses manager Sarina Wiegman has dedicated England’s Euro 2022 final win to her sister, who died three weeks before the start of the tournament.
Wiegman, 52, returned home to the Netherlands to be with her family at the end of May before returning to England’s training camp at St George’s Park to prepare for the competition.
As jubilant scenes erupted around her when the final whistle was blown at Wembley Stadium yesterday evening, she calmly walked onto the pitch and was seen kissing a bracelet on her right wrist.
Speaking at her post-match press conference, which was interrupted by ecstatic England players singing the chorus of Three Lions, Wiegman paid tribute to her sister, The Times reports.
She said: ‘I’m kissing this little armband. It was my sister’s and she passed away during the build-up to the tournament.
‘I think she was here, she was in the crossbar. She would have been here, she would have been really proud of me and I am proud of her too.’
The Lionesses wore black armbands during their pre-tournament friendly against Belgium on June 16 in a mark of respect to her passing.
And Wiegman believes their historic win will leave a legacy that stretched beyond football and into society as a whole.
She added: ‘The world will be changed, we know that. When you win the European Championship the world changes.
As scenes of jubilation erupted among players and supporters around her, Lionesses manager Sarina Wiegman calmly walked onto the pitch and kissed a bracelet in memory of her sister
Wiegman poses with the Euro 2022 trophy following her side’s dramatic win at Wembley Stadium on Sunday evening
Leah Williamson and Millie Bright of England lift the trophy during the post-match presentation following their victory over Germany
‘What we have done is just really incredible. I don’t think I really realised what I’d done when I was asked before the game, England is all behind us.
‘We noticed it getting to the stadium, with 90,000 behind us, and over the tournament we’ve had amazing support.’
Wiegman took the England role only 10 months ago amid a period of abject form following the team’s semi-final defeat at the World Cup in 2019.
She continued: ‘When I took the job, you hope. I knew the team. I knew there was quality and potential in this country.
‘That was one of my personal challenges – can I bring people together from another culture? With the support of the FA, it worked out. It is something you dream of.
‘I think England was a little ahead of the Netherlands, the expectation here was higher, which is normal and logical, because England made it to the semi-finals three times in a row.
‘This tournament has done so much for the game but also for women in society in England, across Europe and across the world. I hope that will make a change too.’
Today thousands of fans will be able to celebrate England’s Euros win with the players in London later. Up to 7,000 supporters will have the opportunity to join the team for a daytime event hosted by veteran Lioness Alex Scott in Trafalgar Square, where fans were dancing in the fountains last night.
Supporters will be able to gain free entry on a first-come first-served basis from 11am on Monday, and can enjoy live music from DJ Monki while tournament highlights are shown on screens.
The players and Wiegman will also take part in a Q&A session before lifting the trophy.
Sarina Weigman has makes history by leading England to glory at Euro 2022 at Wembley
The England players lift the Euro 2022 trophy and end the 56 years of hurt without a final win
Not many knew of Wiegman ahead of this summer’s Euros, but now all of England knows her name.
She is the woman who made history. She is the woman who brought football home. She is the woman who delivered this country its first major trophy since 1966. And she was the calmest woman in Wembley when the full-time whistle was blown.
Her England side, pegged back by Germany in the 79th minute after Ella Toone’s opener, had lost their momentum.
There was no panic — Wiegman never panics. Throughout this tournament her substitutions have proved crucial and they were again on Sunday, with Chloe Kelly coming off the bench to win the Euros.
Kelly had not played a game under Wiegman before this tournament. She missed the majority of last season with a knee injury. Her inclusion in the 23-player squad was a gamble. But Wiegman knows best. Kelly came on for Beth Mead, England’s top scorer in this competition, in the quarter-final and the final.
Her energy and work-rate against Spain were crucial and, when the ball dropped to her in the six-yard box, she was in the right place at the right time to prod home here.
Wiegman only took charge of this team 10 months ago but there has been a transformation. England’s form had been poor since their semi-final exit at the 2019 World Cup. Though they would never admit it, the FA appointed Wiegman to win this home tournament. She had been there and done it with the Netherlands. She had the experience previous managers did not.
What she lacked was time. The interim period under Hege Riise, between Phil Neville’s departure and Wiegman’s arrival, wasted precious time. But it did not matter. If this is what she can do in less than a year, then what can she do in two, three?
The Dutch manager is the woman who made history and who brought football home
Throughout this tournament her substitutions have proved crucial and they did so again
Wiegman’s first games in charge were World Cup qualifiers against inferior nations. The wins were easy, but England wasted numerous chances. ‘We need to be more ruthless,’ Wiegman would say after winning 10-0. She always wants more. In this last three weeks, her players have given her everything. They trust her judgment and why wouldn’t they?
Every big call Wiegman has faced, she has got right. Naming Leah Williamson as captain and not picking Steph Houghton in her 23-player squad was bold.
There was an argument that Houghton, who served her country so well for so many years, deserved to go to this tournament and could offer experience and guidance, even if she was not playing.
Sarina’s tactics and decision making has been lauded as key into turning England into winners
Leah Williamson was made England captain on Wiegman’s big call to replace Steph Houghton
But in Wiegman’s eyes she was not fit and that is what mattered. It was up to Williamson to lead and that job would have been harder with her former captain in the background.
Her decision to name the same starting XI for every game proved a masterstroke. There were question marks over playing Rachel Daly, a forward by trade, at left back in a defence that contained all right-footed players. When Daly was exposed and cut open by Spain, many thought Alex Greenwood should come in. Daly started the semi-final and had her best game of the tournament.
The players that have made an impact off the bench — Toone, Kelly and Alessia Russo — may not have done so had they started. Her in-game decisions have been spot-on: the right players introduced at the right time, delivering the performances of their lives.
Chloe Kelly celebrates scoring the winning goal against Germany in the Euro 2022 Final
It is overlooked that Wiegman went through personal tragedy three weeks before the tournament. She returned home to the Netherlands when her sister died at the end of May. She took a week off to be with her family before returning to England’s training camp at St George’s Park. She always puts her team first.
Wiegman is not one for the limelight. When it was suggested to her that she would become a celebrity if she won this tournament, she laughed. ‘No, I will just go back to my quiet life.’
She can try, but it may not be that easy. Everybody knows her name now.
Few people in football achieve legend status in two countries. Wiegman won the Euros on home turf in 2017 and led the Lionesses to their first major trophy. The humble heroine from the Hague is now an honorary Englishwoman.