The humble hero from The Hague who’s now an honorary Englishwoman… how Sarina Wiegman turned the Lionesses into Euro 2022 winners and FINALLY brought football home as she ended 56 years of hurt
- England beat Germany 2-1 at Wembley to win Euro 2022 in front of 90,000 fans
- Sarina Wiegman’s appointment proved to be a masterstroke by the FA after win
- The Dutch manager celebrates winning back-to-back European Championships
- If this is what she can do in less than a year then what can she do in two, three?
- MARTIN SAMUEL: A ferocious final showed women’s football isn’t meek
How many people knew of Sarina Wiegman, the humble heroine from the Hague, before this summer? Football fans? Some. The average person in the street? Hardly any. 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.
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
There was no panic — Wiegman never panics. Throughout this tournament her substitutions have proved crucial and they were again yesterday, 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.