England head coach Sarina Wiegman says the country’s desire to win a tournament was “like a trauma”. For 56 years, competitions had ended in hurt, sadness and pain. The Lionesses won their first major championship last summer, just one year after Euros heartbreak for Gareth Southgate’s men against Italy.
“What I really noticed is wanting to win a tournament is so deep in society that it was almost a trauma,” Wiegman told BBC Sport’s Natalie Pirks.
“After winning, people were so proud and it was so intense, it’s really been incredible.”
A record audience of 50 million tuned in to watch the Lionesses beat eight-time champions Germany at Wembley. The audience for the final was more than three times the 15 million who watched the 2017 final. Now Wiegman will lead the Lionesses into this summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand with increased pressure and scrutiny on the team.
“The expectations are really high and yes, we have a dream,” she said.
“In a tournament, it’s so unpredictable. I think there’s lots of countries that are still favourites and they are really, really strong and I think we’re one of them.”
In April, England’s 30-game unbeaten run came to an end against Australia and it sparked an unfamiliar feeling of loss for the squad.
“When you keep winning, or when you’re tired and keep winning, it’s OK,” said Wiegman. “But now we really felt it – losing doesn’t feel good. Maybe we did need it to take the next step and to learn – you learn from every game but these lessons were I think from a higher level because of the defeat.”
Wiegman first discovered football on the streets of the Hague, playing alongside her twin brother as there were no girls-only teams.
She was called up by the Netherlands for the first time in 1986, aged 16, and went on to become the first Dutch woman to make 100 appearances for her country.
As coaching in women’s football wasn’t a viable career at the time, Wiegman became a PE teacher.
“Being a PE teacher has helped me, as you know a lot about coaching because you’re teaching all the time about methodology, about language – what language you use to help kids and football players,” she said.
“You learn so much about teaching and all these things that come around about organisation, managing a team, managing a group.
“I think that has really helped me develop as a coach.”
When the Women’s Eredivisie was created in 2007 she landed her first full-time job as a coach at ADO Den Haag, having initially turned it down when it was offered on a semi-professional basis.
After seven years at Den Haag, Wiegman became assistant coach of the Netherlands national team and later their head coach.
She joined England in 2021 after leading her home nation to Euro success and the 2019 World Cup final.
“I think we should always be aware of where we came from, where are we now and where we want to go to,” said the Dutchwoman.
“But also never forget where we came from and always be grateful of what has developed over time.
“I don’t take things for granted, but it becomes normal that this is my workplace and that Wembley is also my workplace – for lots of people it’s a dream to get there.
“I’m very grateful that I can work here, I don’t take it for granted but it’s my job now and I’m just doing my job.”- Source: BBC