01 August 2022

England aim for lasting change as fans serenade Euro 2022 champions

01 August 2022

England’s players were once again serenaded and supported by adoring fans as they paraded the Euro 2022 trophy at Trafalgar Square.

To paraphrase the most quoted commentary of all time, ‘they think it’s all over’ – now the Lionesses are hoping it is just the beginning.

Sarina Wiegman’s side beat Germany 2-1 after extra time at a sold-out Wembley on Sunday to win the first major trophy in their history and the first for a senior England side since the 1966 World Cup.

Some 7,000 supporters then flocked to Trafalgar Square on Monday and there was so much interest that fans who could not get in gathered on the steps of the National Gallery just to get a vantage point.

Captain Leah Williamson and head coach Sarina Wiegman lead the on-stage celebrations. (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

Former England international and BBC pundit Alex Scott introduced the players on to the stage shortly after 12.30pm and started a rendition of ‘Football’s coming home’.

Manager Wiegman, captain Leah Williamson and goalscorers Ella Toone and Chloe Kelly led the squad on to the stage to raucous cheers.

Williamson said she hoped the tournament could lead to lasting change for the game across the world.

“I think the legacy of the tournament was already made before that final game, the young girls and the women who can look up and aspire to be us,” she said.

We've changed the game, hopefully in this country and across the world.

The Arsenal defender also hailed Wiegman as the “missing ingredient”, revealing that the players had “partied more than they had played football” in the last 24 hours.

“We’ve changed the game, hopefully in this country and across the world,” she said.

England men’s captain Harry Kane had tweeted to Toone on Sunday: “Take a bow for that finish”.

Asked about that onstage, Toone joked: “Yeah, I taught him that.

Kelly, referencing her ecstatic celebrations after her winning goal, said: “The shirt’s staying on!”

Confetti cannons and giant sparklers greeted England once again lifting the trophy, with Wiegman then encouraged to lift it by herself to more acclaim.

The squad sang ‘Sweet Caroline’ and ‘Freed From Desire’ – the song repackaged by Lionesses crowds as “Beth Mead’s on fire” – before Rachel Daly grabbed the mic to lead a chorus of ‘River Deep, Mountain High’.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, was first on stage and received a mixed response as he hailed a “game-changing” moment.

He also called for the whole squad to be given New Year Honours, something which was cheered.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan spoke ahead of the England squad taking to the stage. (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

“We’ve waited decades for football to come home, these women have brought it home,” he said before making his way off stage.

Lucy Bronze also got the crowd cheering as she said the aim was now to win the World Cup, while Jill Scott said her hopes were that women’s football would now be known as ‘football’ following the success.

That now has to be the aim if the Lionesses are to build on their historic achievement and fulfil their lasting aim of changing society.

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