English football fans have been waiting for their first title since Bobby Charlton’s gang got their hands on the 1966 World Cup. Deliverance did not come from the men’s team as they had imagined, beaten a while ago. year at home in the final of the Euro by Italy, but women’s football. Sunday July 31 in London, the “Three Lionesses” won their first European championship, which they organized, by defeating Germany in the final, at the end of the extension (victory 2-1).
The English have long been on par with a Germany already accustomed to European honors – eight times titled at the Euro – but deprived, a few minutes before kick-off, of its captain and top scorer, Alexandra Popp, executioner of the France team in the previous round and victim of “muscular problems” during warm-up. Sarina Wiegman’s players had to wait for the hour mark to find the opening thanks to Ella Toone, at the conclusion of a counter-attack with a subtle lob on the German goalkeeper (1-0, 62nd). Before falling back too much and then conceding the equalizer by Lina Magull, cutting off a low center from Tabea Wassmuth (1-1, 79th).
Extra time, and a possible penalty shootout, would decide the winner. The meeting definitely tipped over to the English side when Chloe Kelly took advantage of a mess at the reception of a corner to place a sharp close (2-1, 111th), capsizing the mythical enclosure of Wembley and its over 87,000 spectators. Either the record for a European championship match, men and women combined. “It’s the moment of my life that I’m most proud of. (…) I won’t sleep all week, confided the English captain Leah Williamson after the final, at the microphone of the BBC. What this tournament will leave is above all the change in society. That’s all we’ve done together bringing people to the games, but what this team will leave behind are winners and that’s just the beginning of the journey. »
Three years after the World Cup organized in France, which had already concretized the upward trajectory of women in football, and despite the slowdown in this progress due, since 2020, to the Covid-19 pandemic, the English Euro ends on an undeniable popular success. With nearly 575,000 cumulative supporters present in English stadiums in July, the influx of this Euro pulverizes the best mark for the women’s continental competition, which was achieved five years ago in the Netherlands with half as many spectators. . “Your success goes far beyond the trophy you so well deserved. You have all set an example that will inspire girls and women today and for generations to come,” said in a press release Queen Elizabeth II, who now only speaks on very rare occasions.
At the national level, this success also validates the choice as coach of the Dutchwoman Sarina Wiegman, undefeated since taking office in September 2021, she who had led the Netherlands to the European title in 2017 and to the final of the World Cup 2019. One year from the next World Cup and two years from the Paris Olympics, this title also crowns a country that has returned to the map of women’s football in Europe in recent years, thanks to a major reform decided in 2017 by the English Federation and aimed at professionalizing its championship.