‘I’m buzzing, I’m bouncing, I can’t stop smiling’: Joy for England fans as Lionesses roar into Euro 2022 final

·4 min read
Game faces: England fans celebrate at Sheffield’s Devonshire Green  (PA)
Game faces: England fans celebrate at Sheffield’s Devonshire Green (PA)

For five-year-old England fan Milo Jones, there will, inevitably, be years of footballing heartbreak and torment to come. But not tonight.

The youngster was one of 32,000 supporters packed into Bramall Lane, in Sheffield, to watch the Lionesses destroy Sweden 4-0 in the semi-finals of Euro 2022.

And, as fans poured out onto the Steel City’s streets afterwards, there was unbridled joy at the historic victory. Talk of football coming home could be heard everywhere.

“Amazing,” said Milo. “Amazing.”

It was, said dad Ryan, his first ever football match. “What a way to start off,” the 39-year-old university teacher beamed. “He absolutely loved it. I just hope he doesn’t think watching England is always this good.”

What was his favourite bit? Alessia Russo’s backheeled goal. “Although he had some sweets at halftime,” noted Jones. “And they were a hit too.”

Unforgettable debut: Milo Jones watched his first ever football match with dad Ryan (The Independent)
Unforgettable debut: Milo Jones watched his first ever football match with dad Ryan (The Independent)

The victory means England now proceed to the tournament final at Wembley on Sunday. It will be the third time in the competition’s 38-year history they have reached that stage. They have never won it.

“This time,” declared Sam Sculley, a 28-year-old health care worker. “Definitely this time. We’ll never have a better chance to be champions.”

She has been watching England fo 20 years – “since it was 200-300 people turning up for games” – so to witness a semi-final victory in front of so many people was something she’d never even dared dream of.

“I’m buzzing,” she said. “I’m bouncing. I can’t stop smiling. Everything about this team is brilliant. Their passion, their skill set, their awareness. To go and beat Sweden like that – the team ranked second in the world – it’s unbelievable.”

Fans forever: Sam Scully and mother Sasha Jordan (The Independent)
Fans forever: Sam Scully and mother Sasha Jordan (The Independent)

In two decades of watching games, though, where did this rank? “It’s the first time I’ve seen them win a Euro semi-final,” she replies. “So I’d say that makes it the best.”

Sam had driven up with and mum Sasha Jordan from Warwickshire to watch Sarina Wiegman’s team triumph.

“I used to play for Coventry United when I was younger and mum drove me all round the country,” she says. “So tonight is definitely my turn.”

What would it mean to youngsters in the same position she had once been to now see this kind of success? “It will mean everything because it shows that this is their game as well,” the health care worker said. “You’ll get hundreds of kids going out this summer and pretending to be Russo, Mead, Bronze. That would have been unthinkable even at the last Euros. And it’s invaluable for the game.”

‘Best night of my life’: Jo and Simon Hill with daughters Hollie, 11, and Lillie, 9 (The Independent)
‘Best night of my life’: Jo and Simon Hill with daughters Hollie, 11, and Lillie, 9 (The Independent)

One such youngster, perhaps, will be 11-year-old Hollie Hill.

She plays right midfield for her local club in Peterborough and had been brought to Tuesday’s game – along with nine-year-old sister Lillie – by dad Simon and mum Jo. They have tickets for Wembley on Sunday too.

“I can’t wait,” the youngster said. “It’s been one of the best nights of my life but hopefully [Sunday] will be even better. It’s just brilliant.”

Jo, 44, agreed. “The way they play for each other,” she said. “There are no egos out there. They’re a team.”

Dad Simon thought about this. “They put the men’s lot to shame,” the 47-year-old decided.

Hollie herself has dreams of playing for England one day. Could she make it? “Well, games like tonight are certainly going to help inspire everyone,” said Jo.

Less happy, it has to be said, were Julia Weidenmark and Klara Rosenqvist.

They had travelled over from Sweden for the tournament.

“I thought we were unlucky tonight,” Julia, a 28-year-old business controller. “I thought England were more clinical but I don’t think there was too much in it, really. It was a flattering score line.”

Facing up: Sweden fans Julia Weidenmark and Klara Rosenqvist (The Independent)
Facing up: Sweden fans Julia Weidenmark and Klara Rosenqvist (The Independent)

All the same, the pair had enjoyed a terrific two weeks travelling around England, and were now planning on going to Wednesday’s second semi-final: Germany versus France.

The winner of that will, of course, be the team who play England on Sunday.

If it is the Germans who progress, more than five decades after England’s men triumphed in another famous Wembley final, expect far more talk of football coming home to end 56 years of hurt.

“Germany would be interesting,” said 32-year-old design engineer Klara with some understatement. “I think you should win but England and Germany – there is some rivalry, right?”