Boris Johnson has praised the “astounding talent” of the England women’s football team before their Euros showdown with Germany on Sunday.
In an open letter to the Lionesses, who will play the eight-time champions in front of a potentially record-breaking crowd at Wembley, the outgoing prime minister wished them luck in their first major final since a 6-2 loss to Germany in Euro 2009.
Johnson tweeted images of England flags at Downing Street and said in the letter that the team had inspired girls and women across the country to “know beyond any shadow of a doubt that football is not just for boys”.
He wrote: “Your passion for the game, your tenacity in tricky spots, and above all your astounding talent on the pitch have already created a summer of fantastic memories for millions of us.”
“You can see it in the sold-out stadia, in the packed fan zones, in the small children dancing wildly to Sweet Caroline and the TV viewing figures that have seen records crumbling almost as comprehensively as Sweden’s defence did in the semi-final. ”
He added: “In any pride it is the lionesses who ruthlessly hunt as a team and bring their prize back home, and I am sure that will be the case against Germany.”
But, he said, whatever the score on Sunday night, he hopes they will take pride in the message they have sent to girls and women, that “it really is for everyone”.
“That is all down to you and what you have already achieved,” he added. “And so, when the referee’s whistle blows tonight, I hope that you are every bit as proud of yourselves as England is of you.”
Keir Starmer, the Labor leader, also praised the team, declaring “It’s coming home!”
He said the Lionesses had inspired his own daughter. “As a parent, I know how vital it is to see strong, successful role models in sport. What you and your team have accomplished this summer will not just be celebrated as a great moment for English football but as one that encouraged and inspired young women like my own daughter,” he said.
Starmer was at Sheffield United’s stadium Bramall Lane for England’s triumphant 4-0 semi-final victory over Sweden on Tuesday, an experience that he said would “live long in the memory”.
Of the 27 meetings between Germany and England, Germany have won 21. But England fans may take comfort in the fact that in a match earlier this year the Lionesses were victorious.
It comes a little more than a year after England’s men finished runners-up in the Euro 2020 final, also at Wembley, when they lost to Italy on penalties.