Lionesses manager Sarina Wiegman has dedicated England’s 2022 European Championship overall victory to her sister, who died three weeks before the start of the tournament.
Wiegman, 52, returned to the Netherlands at the end of May to be with her family before returning to England’s training camp at St George’s Park to prepare for competition.
As cheers erupted around her as the final whistle was blown at Wembley Stadium last night, she calmly walked onto the pitch and kissed a bracelet on her right wrist.
At her post-match press conference, which was interrupted by ecstatic England players singing the Three Lions chorus, Wiegman paid tribute to her sister, The Times reports.
She said, ‘I kiss this little bracelet. It belonged to my sister and she passed away leading up to the tournament.
“I think she was here, she was in the bar. She would have been here, she would have been very proud of me and I’m proud of her too.’
The Lionesses wore black armbands during their pre-tournament friendly against Belgium on June 16 as a mark of respect for her passing.
And Wiegman believes their historic victory will leave a legacy that extends beyond football and society as a whole.
She added: “The world will change, we know that. If you win the European Championship, the world changes.
As cheering scenes erupted among the 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 after her side’s dramatic win at Wembley Stadium on Sunday night
England’s Leah Williamson and Millie Bright lift the trophy during the post-match presentation after their win over Germany
“What we’ve done is really unbelievable. I don’t think I really realized what I had done when I was asked for the match, England are all behind us.
“We noticed it made it to the stadium, with 90,000 behind us, and we’ve had great support throughout the tournament.”
Wiegman took on the role of England just 10 months ago in 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 squad. I knew there was quality and potential in this country.
‘That was one of my personal challenges: can I bring people from another culture together? With the support of the FA, we succeeded. It’s something you dream of.
“I think England was ahead of the Netherlands, expectations were higher here, which is normal and logical, because England have reached 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 around the world. I hope that will change too.’
Today thousands of fans will be able to celebrate England’s victory at the European Championship with the players later in London. Up to 7,000 supporters will have the chance to join the team for a daytime event hosted by veteran Lioness Alex Scott in Trafalgar Square, where fans danced in the fountains last night.
Supporters get free entry on a first-come, first-served basis on Mondays from 11am and can enjoy live music from DJ Monki while the highlights of the tournament are shown on screens.
The players and Wiegman will also participate in a Q&A session before the trophy is lifted.
Sarina Weigman made history by leading England to victory at Euro 2022 at Wembley
England’s players raise the Euro 2022 trophy, ending 56 years of pain without a final win
Not many people knew about Wiegman before this summer’s European Championship, 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 brought this country its first major trophy since 1966. And she was the calmest woman in Wembley when the whistle was blown.
Her England side, fed 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 that was the case again on Sunday, with Chloe Kelly coming off the bench to win the European Championship.
Kelly had not played a game under Wiegman before this tournament. She missed most of last season with a knee injury. Her inclusion in the roster of 23 players was a gamble. But Wiegman knows best. Kelly came on for England’s top goalscorer Beth Mead in the quarter-final and final.
Her energy and pace of work against Spain were crucial and when the ball fell on her in the six-yard box, she was in the right place at the right time to poke home here.
Wiegman took charge of this team only 10 months ago, but a transformation has taken place. England’s form has been poor since their departure from the semi-finals at the 2019 World Cup. Although they would never admit it, the FA appointed Wiegman to win this home tournament. She had been there and had done it with the Netherlands. She had the experience that previous managers did not have.
What she missed was time. The interim period under Hege Riise, between Phil Neville’s departure and Wiegman’s arrival, cost precious time. But it didn’t matter. If this is what she can do in less than a year, what can she do in two, three?
The Dutch manager is the woman who made history and took football home
Throughout this tournament, her substitutions have proved crucial and they have done it again
Wiegman’s first matches were the World Cup qualifiers against inferior countries. The victories were easy, but England missed many opportunities. “We need to be more ruthless,” Wiegman would say after winning 10-0. She always wants more. In the past three weeks, her players have given her everything. They trust her judgment and why shouldn’t they?
Every big question Wiegman has had, she’s been right. Naming Leah Williamson as captain and not choosing Steph Houghton in her roster of 23 players was risky.
There was an argument that Houghton, who has served her country so well for so many years, deserved to come to this tournament and provide experience and guidance even when she was not playing.
Sarina’s tactics and decision making has been hailed as key to making England winners
Leah Williamson became England captain on Wiegman’s big call to replace Steph Houghton
But in Wiegman’s eyes she was not fit and that was what mattered. It was up to Williamson to lead and that task would have been more difficult with her former captain in the background.
Her decision to name the same starting line-up for every match turned out to be a masterstroke. There were questions about the playing of Rachel Daly, a striker by profession, as a left-back in a defense that included all right-footed players. When Daly was exposed and cut open by Spain, many thought Alex Greenwood had to come in. Daly started the semifinals and had her best game of the tournament.
The players who impressed from the bench – Toone, Kelly and Alessia Russo – may not have done so if they had started. Her in-game decisions were spot-on: introducing the right players at the right time and delivering the performance of a lifetime.
Chloe Kelly celebrates scoring the winning goal against Germany in the Euro 2022 Final
It is overlooked that Wiegman suffered a personal tragedy three weeks before the tournament. She returned 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 the English training camp at St George’s Park. She always puts her team first.
Wiegman is not one to be in the spotlight. When it was suggested that she would become a celebrity if she won this tournament, she laughed. “No, I’m just going back to my quiet life.”
She can try, but it may not be that easy. Everyone knows her name now.
Few people in football achieve legend status in two countries. Wiegman won the European Championship at home in 2017 and led the Lionesses to their first major trophy. The humble heroine from The Hague is now an honorary Englishwoman.