England vs Germany: Leah Williamson says Euro 2022 has changed society and women’s football

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England captain Leah Williamson is preparing to face Germany at Wembley (Getty Images)
England captain Leah Williamson is preparing to face Germany at Wembley (Getty Images)

England captain Leah Williamson believes that this summer’s Women’s European Championship has not only changed women’s football but society at large.

Williamson will lead the Lionesses out against Germany at Sunday’s Euro 2022 final with the hope of becoming the first England captain since Bobby Moore to win a major international tournament.

A record crowd of 87,000 is expected at Wembley - with another 30 million set to watch at home - and the 25-year-old claimed that after a summer where England have captured their public’s imagination, this is only the start of greater recognition for the sport.

“I think 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, how we’re looked upon,” the England captain said.

“I think tomorrow is not the end of a journey, but the start of one. And I think, regardless of the end result of that game, there will be a nice moment for reflection.

“Naturally it’s my job to go out for 90 minutes, to play, and win, but I think, when we look back on this tournament as a whole, we’ve really started something. As I say, I think tomorrow is the start of that. I want it to be the start. I want this to be a mark for the future, not looking back on what’s come before.”

Williamson added: “I’ve only ever been involved in this workplace, in football, but I think in most workplaces across the world, women still have a few more battles to face to try and overcome.

“I think that for every success that we make, for every change of judgement or perception or opening the eyes of somebody who views women as somebody with the potential to be equal to her male counterpart, I think that makes change in society.”

Sarina Wiegman, the England manager, is expected to name the same starting line-up that has played all five games at the tournament so far, with a full squad to select from for the Lionesses’ first major final in 13 years.

Wiegman believes she has watched her players grow through the tournament and insisted that they have had their fair share of tests, despite a number of heavy wins on their way to the final.

“We’ve had a lot of tests, but I think we did pretty well,” she said. “I think the season has been pretty good for us and I think the group stage went relatively easy. We’ve all seen that the Spain game was very tight and close but the Sweden game looked a little bit easier, but here we are now.

“I think the team has done really well, we grew throughout the season but we have grown even more during this tournament."

"I think it has been really calm around the team. I think that works really well. We just go back to the Lensbury [England’s training base in Teddington] where we are staying and do the things we have to do to get prepared for tomorrow.”