IT’S HOME: England heroes end 56 years of hurt with victory over old rivals Germany

England fans celebrate Euro 2022 win in Trafalgar Square

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As congratulations poured in for winning our first major football trophy since 1966, the Queen told Sarina Wiegman’s superstars: “You have all set an example that will be an inspiration for girls and women today, and for future generations.”

A record-breaking TV audience, predicted to be some 20 million, a watching Prince William, cheering celebrities and a thrilling all-female RAF flypast willed on our inspirational footballers to victory.

And 87,192 screaming fans – a record attendance for a women’s Euros match – cheered on every England touch.

After an evenly-matched first half, Ella Toone broke the deadlock with an exquisite chip over German goalkeeper Merle Frohms in the 62nd minute.

England’s well-organised opponents struck back through Lina Magull on 79 minutes.

But then Chloe Kelly chose the best possible moment to score her first international goal with an extra-time winner, toe-poking home a rebound in the 110th minute. Cue joy unconfined.

In the already rocking national stadium – and across the nation. With roars from the sofas, the fan zones and the pubs.

This is a breakthrough moment not only for women’s football in England but for its profile across the world.

To coin a cliche – football was the winner and is set to inspire boys as well as girls. And maybe even Gareth Southgate’s England side in this winter’s World Cup in Qatar.

The extra-time winner against old foes who have usually come out on top against us, will lift a nation – and inspire a new generation of youngsters to take up the game and get fit.

Ahead of Sunday’s 5pm kick-off, an all-female RAF flypast took to the skies over London’s Wembley stadium with a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft flanked by two Typhoon fighter jets.

Similar to the Three Lions, the Lionesses had never won the Euros since the competition began in 1984, which was also the year when they played their first and last final at home.

Lead by Dutch coach Sarina Wiegman, they entered the crunch match as underdogs with the Germans having won the tournament eight times – with the nations last playing in the Euros in 2009 when England lost 2-6.

Star striker Ellen White, 33, almost got the Lionesses off to a dream start when Chelsea’s Fran Kirby floated in a cross to her but she was only able to header the ball into the grateful German keeper’s gloves.

Just 23 minutes into the tie England had two swift yellow cards, the first for midfielder Georgia Stanway after a crunching tackle on Sara Dabritz before striker White also received one for a similar string challenge.

Just before half-time White had half the goal beckoning when after a cut-back in the box, only to steer the shot just over the bar with the first 45 minutes ending 0-0.

Germany came out firing on all cylinders in the second half but on the 57th minute Lea Schuller earned herself a yellow card for a nasty challenge on Lioness keeper Mary Earps.

But 62 minutes in, Manchester United’s 22 year-old forward Ella Toone ran on to a through ball and chipped stranded keeper Merle Frohms, her second in the tournament.

Trafalgar Square erupted in cheers at the strike, with Rihana Bhugalee, 14, from Dartford, saying the atmosphere was “very energetic and lively”.

On the 79th minute Germany equalised thanks to a deft near post flick by Lina Magull, pricking the expectant atmosphere inside the packed ground and the game went to a nail-biting extra time.

But 10 minutes before the game went to penalties Man City’s Chloe Kelly, 24, scored her first international goal to seal the win, ripping her shirt off and waving it as she ran away celebrating.

Fans went wild outside Wembley Stadium when England regained the lead with elated Lucy Richards, 19, weeping: “I can’t believe it, what a time to score!”

At the final whistle goal-scorer Kelly yelled: “This is amazing!” before launching into the chorus of their anthem, the Neil Diamond hit ‘Sweet Caroline’.

Kelly added: “Thank you everyone who came out to support us. This is what dreams are made of as a young girl growing up watching football. To be here and score the winner – wow! I just want to celebrate now!”

Captain Leah Williamson said: “I’m taking it in. I’m so proud to be English.” Ella Toone admitted: “It’s the best moment of my life. I’m buzzing my head off!”

David Baddiel praised the Lionesses’ victory over Germany as he said he can finally say the lyrics “it’s come home” from his football anthem Three Lions.

The Queen added in her touching tribute to the victors: “It is my hope you will be as proud of the impact you have had on your sport as you are of the result today.

“My warmest congratulations, and those of my family, go to you all. It is a significant achievement. The Championships and your performance have rightly won praise. However, your success goes far beyond the trophy you have so deservedly earned.”

In a personal message written after he had congratulated the team on the pitch, William said on Twitter: “Sensational. An incredible win @lionesses and the whole nation couldn’t be prouder of you all. Wonderful to see history in the making tonight at Wembley, congratulations! W”

World Cup 1966 hat trick hero Sir Geoff Hurst wrote: “European Champions. Unbelievably proud. #Lionesses.” While Three Lions defender Harry Maguire tweeted: “Brilliant game. History made. The whole country is proud of you. Enjoy the celebrations.”

Ex-Three Lions striker Gary Lineker tweeting: “Football is a simple game. 22 women chase a ball for 90 minutes and, at the end, England actually win. Congratulations.”

The Spice Girls praised the Lionesses for their “girl power”, writing: “Congratulations @Lionesses True #GirlPower right there.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Football has come home! A stunning victory. Huge congratulations to Sarina, Leah and the whole team.

“Football pitches across the country will be filled as never before by girls and women inspired by your triumph.”

Tory leadership hopeful Rishi Sunak vowing, if he becomes Prime Minister, to bid for a future Women’s World Cup.

Mr Sunak said: “These Euros have been transformational. In the long history of women’s football in this country, this game-changing squad has done more to smash through barriers than any other.

“Britain is a terrific host of major sporting events, which not only make us immensely proud, but also generate jobs and opportunities. Global Britain will be the home of the world’s best sport.”

While leadership rival Liz Truss tweeted: “It’s come home! Congratulations @Lionesses, brilliant game, amazing atmosphere. You have made everyone incredibly proud.”

And England Three Lions skipper Harry Kane was among those watching at Wembley, hailing the “incredible atmosphere at Wembley.”

Adele was among the celebs to praise the Lionesses following their victory in Euro 2022 against Germany, sharing a photo of the England women’s team celebrating their win on Instagram, describing the moment as a “game changer”.

Comedienne Miranda Hart tweeted: “Crying. So brilliant. So important. Too emotional to articulate more. I am glad there are 7 year olds watching this who wanted to be a goalkeeper like I did! But didn’t think it was ‘appropriate’ or ‘allowed’ to voice it. Thank you Lionesses.”

Back in 1984, some players’ husbands were unable to join the crowd of 2,500 at Luton Town’s Kenilworth Road ground because they could not afford the transport.

The game only had halves of 35 minutes instead of 45 and a smaller ball than that played with by men was used.

Last week England booked their place in Sunday’s final in style thanks to a 4-0 drubbing of Sweden at Sheffield’s Bramall Lane, scoring some goal of the tournament contenders too including Alessia Russo´s cheeky backheel.

The Lionesses were bolstered pre-match by a host of stars – with a special video message of support from the Duke of Cambridge and his beaming seven year-old daughter Princess Charlotte.

In an endearing 10-second video message with his daughter, William – who watched the match inside the stadium – said: “We both want to wish the Lionesses the best of luck for tonight.

“You’ve done amazingly well in the competition and we are rooting for you all the way.”

Charlotte, sat beside him, said: “Good luck, I hope you win. Bye.”

England captain Williamson, 25, summed up the game as a “fairytale fixture” – which was “not the end of a journey but the start of one” as she called for more investment in the women’s game.

The defender added: “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.

“When we look back on this tournament, we’ve really started something and I want this to be a mark for the future.

“For every success 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, that makes change in society.

“That’s a powerful message. In a typically male-dominated environment, these strides that we take forward can impact everybody on that wider scale.”

And that was confirmed by a mother and daughter who watched the win at Wembley – childminder Helen Charlesworth, from Orpington, Kent, said her daughter Darcey, 22 – who summed up the Euros saying: “This tournament has definitely helped grow the game.”

Day nation stopped for women’s football

We cheered, groaned, roared and finally celebrated our Lionesses nail-biting Euro 2022 win – with our superstars now set for honours, riches and life-long glory.

The nation watched the 120 minutes of thrilling action on TV sets at home, in pubs, bars restaurants, cinemas, and town squares – willing on our heroines to make sporting history at Wembley against Germany. And when the final whistle blew, the celebration exploded – with delirious fans jumping into the fountains in London’s Trafalgar Square as they chanted: “It’s coming home.”.

The players face honours galore for picking up their first major title – with MBEs, OBEs and CBEs expected. The bookies tip the squad to win the BBC Sports Personality of The Year team award.

England captain Leah Williamson, 25, and six-goal Golden Boot winner Beth Mead, 27, are hotly tipped for senior New Year gongs.

Coral’s David Stevens said: “Beth Mead is 6-5 favourite to win SPOTY having ended the tournament as top scorer. We have closed the book on team of the year, they are absolute certainties.”

The Lionesses will each collect a £55,000 win bonus, though shamefully it is a tiny fraction of the £460,000 bonus the men would each have banked had they won their Euros last summer.

Weeping players on the Wembley pitch had England flags draped over their shoulders as they clapped the incredible support from 87,192 spectators.

A sea of St George’s flags could be seen as tens of thousands left the stadium, many embracing, dancing and singing. Megan Morinis, from Chelmsford, Essex, said: “There were so many girls and women here to watch this match – who says we don’t like football?

“They played so well against a really good Germany team and represented this country so well. It wasn’t just a historic sporting win, it was a victory for girls across the country.”

Robin Mcalpine, 23, from London, called the atmosphere “super emotional”.

She added: “It was so friendly and watching everyone get behind the team. The vibes were great.”

Music entertained the crowd of children and adults who were dancing in the streets to Blame It On The Boogie.

And around the country, cars and buses honked as they went past showing their support.

Fan parks were rammed while cinema chains invited spectators in to watch the thrills on the big screen with air-conditioning, popcorn and soft drinks.

Supporters are estimated to have spent £138.1 million as they cheered on their home team with an anticipated 19.5 million BBC viewers left on the edge of their seats.

Some 4.6 million fans are believed to have filled pubs and bars to watch the long-standing rivals go head-to-head – with £46.1million spent on drinks and food in hospitality venues and 8.7 million pints thought to have been consumed.

Dozens of ticketless fans watched the match on tiny screens on their phones on Wembley Way just outside the north London venue. The nearby BoxPark was also packed and noisy, with a performance from pop group S Club 7.

Chelsea Women’s football manager Emma Hayes urged crowds to “chant and cheer louder”. The message was united and clear – this win needs to spark a new surge in sporting opportunity and equality in Britain. Debs Hewes, 46, works for Aylesbury United Ladies & Girls FC, where Lioness striker Ellen White’s father John and brother Marcus coach teams.

She said: “They can see Ellen and they know that if they want it, they can go out and be it.”

Mitra Wilson, 38, an osteopath receptionist from Croydon, watched the final in Trafalgar Square with her daughters Rebecca, nine, and Isabelle, eight. Both girls wore England flag face paint. She said: “It is empowering my daughters to know they can do it and nothing has to hold them back.”

Laura Ghany, 32, from south-east London, came to watch the match with her daughter Samira, 10, who tried to join a mixed football team last year and it turned out to be just boys. She said the recent success of the Lionesses had been “a bit of inspiration” for Samira, adding: “It has been really good to see some women in action do some amazing stuff.”

Locals flocked into Newcastle’s Central fan zone in high spirits with their England shirts and flags. Anna Benham, 30, an administrator from the North East, said: “It’s really great to see the support and how the country has got behind them.”

Leah Harker, a 20-year-old sports science student from County Durham said: “I’ve been following them the entire tournament. It’s great to see women’s football leading the way and that people are getting behind it.”

And proud Jake Brown, 24,m an engineer from Newcastle, said: “It doesn’t matter that it’s women’s football to me. It’s football.”

More girls to be playing football at schools by 2024

Football Association chiefs hope the soaring viewing figures for England Women’s Euro 2022 exploits will fuel an extra 120,000 girls playing the game at schools by 2024. Around 900,000 schoolgirls were said to be playing football after the last Euro tournament in 2017.

Now, it is hoped the Lionesses’ win at Wembley last night will “turbo-charge” growth, according to Baroness Sue Campbell, the FA’s director of women’s football.

Former players and MPs have been critical of a lack of equal access to football in PE lessons. But now the FA has ambitious targets to get at least 120,000 more schoolgirls playing within 18 months. The FA’s master plan to harness the buzz around the sport will involve training an extra 300 women coaches.

The governing body is also scaling up projects with schools and inner-city football centres, which it says can help provide “500,000 new footballing opportunities to engage women and girls”. An FA source said: “Interest has exploded. The Lionesses have really struck the zeitgeist.”

Figures published this month by England Football, part of the FA, showed only 63 per cent of schools in England offer equal football coaching to boys and girls.

Calls for more football coaching for girls mounted after the Lionesses secured their place in the Euro final against Germany with a 4-0 semi-final win over Sweden.

Ian Wright, the BBC commentator and former England player, said: “Whatever happens in the final, if girls are not allowed to play football just like boys can in their PE lessons after this tournament, then what are we doing?”

Boris Johnson has also welcomed the boom in the women’s game in a good luck letter sent to the England camp in the lead-up to the sold-out showdown with Germany.

The Prime Minister wrote: “The pitches and playgrounds and parks of this country will be filled as never before with girls and women who know beyond any shadow of a doubt that football is not just for boys – it really is for everyone.”

The Prime Minister added in his message that the team had already created a “summer of fantastic memories”.

Lucy Powell, the shadow sports secretary, claimed: “girls still trail well behind boys in participation”.

But the Department for Education said the success of the Lionesses “will inspire a generation of girls”.

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