The England Lionesses’ have made a fantastic start to their European Championships campaign, most recently demolishing highly-fancied Norway 8-0 – would silverware be England’s greatest footballing accomplishment?
When it comes to discussing the best moments in English football thoughts turn to 1966 when Sir Alf Ramsey led the country to its first (and currently sole) World Cup triumph. Bobby Moore, 56 years later, remains the only English captain to hoist aloft football’s biggest prize and his place in history immortalised.
There has been little to shout about since that famous day at Wembley, though there have been several near misses – none closer than at Euro 2020 when Gareth Southgate’s side lost the final on penalties having taken an early lead. In 2022, the nation is thirsty for international success and, before the men kick off the World Cup in Qatar in the winter, the Lionesses are threatening to break the glass ceiling.
Can the Lionesses End 56 Years of Hurt?
Unequivocally, yes, the Lionesses are more than capable of bringing an end to England’s 56-year wait for international trophies. Sarina Wiegman’s side more than proved that by putting eight goals past Norway in their second game of the tournament.
That win secured qualification into the quarter-finals with a game to spare, with England facing the runners-up of Group B (consisting of Germany, Spain, Denmark, and Finland). It means that Wiegman has the luxury of choosing whether she wishes to rest some of her key players ahead of the quarter-final tie.
At the time of writing, Beth Mead is the tournament’s top scorer with four goals, one ahead of France’s Grace Geyoro. Mead scored a hat-trick against Norway and will be hoping to feature in the starting line-up in the all-British clash with Northern Ireland at Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium.
The Lionesses have reached the semi-finals at each of the last three major tournaments and now there is a sense that the time is now to end the nation’s wait for silverware. The hosts of any international tournament always benefit from having home advantage and, with the women’s game growing to the point that stadia such as Old Trafford and Wembley are sold out with thousands of Lionesses fans, there will surely never be a better opportunity for the England Women to taste glory.
Where Would Women’s Euros Success Rank?
In terms of the modern day, winning the Women’s Euros would surely have to sit top of the tree above the men’s final appearance at Euro 2020 (staged in 2021). When it comes to all-time achievements, 1966 would still be ranked as number one – as it would have done had the men won last year – for the simple fact that the World Cup trumps the European Championships.
The legacy that the Lionesses could leave by winning the Euros, though, could arguably be greater than that of Sir Alf Ramsey and Bobby Moore. Women’s football has already seen huge growth over the last decade in England, but an international win could provide an almighty extra boost accelerating the game’s status to becoming much closer in stature to that of the men’s game.
Should Leah Williamson become England’s first captain since Moore to lift a major trophy, she would lead her team not just to long-awaited glory, but into the annals of history.