The England captain, Leah Williamson, believes that whatever the result of Sunday’s Euro 2022 final against Germany at Wembley, the tournament will prove transformational for not just women’s football but broader gender equality.
Williamson could become the first England captain to lift a major trophy since Bobby Moore hoisted the World Cup in 1966 but she is already intensely proud to have been part of what she regards as a watershed moment for women.
“What we’ve seen in the tournament already is that this hasn’t just been a change for women’s football but society in general, it’s about how we’re looked upon,” said Williamson.
“The final is not the end of a journey but the start of one. And regardless of the end result, there will be a nice moment for reflection. Naturally it’s my job to go out for 90 minutes to play, and win, but when we look back on this tournament as a whole, we’ll have really started something. I want tomorrow to be the start, to be a maker for the future.
“I’ve only ever been in this workplace but, in most workplaces across the world, women still have a few more battles to face to try to overcome. For every success we make, for every change of judgment or perception or the opening of the eyes of somebody who will now view women as somebody with the potential to be the equal of her male counterpart, that can create change in society.”
If anyone had doubted why Sarina Wiegman made Williamson, a part-time accountancy student, England’s captain such concerns were banished as the 25-year-old warmed to her theme. “It’s a powerful message that, in a typically male-dominated environment, these strides we’ve made can be taken forward and impact everyone on a wider scale.”
Wiegman confirmed she has no selection problems. “Everyone’s fit,” said England’s manager, who has tended to resist rotating her team. “We’ll make hard choices; everyone has the quality to play.”
Wiegman, who led her native Netherlands to Euro 2017 glory, excels at understatement but even someone as low-key as her accepted playing in front of 90,000 at Wembley will be special.
“I’m not stupid, I know it’s big,” she said. “It’s incredible and I enjoy that. At some point the game might be a little physical. Germany can play very direct, very physical. That’s what we expect but we’ve seen some things we want to exploit.”