"I'm so jealous of those little girls that are going to follow in our footsteps," says England's captain ahead of what she hopes will be a watershed UEFA Women's EURO 2022 campaign.
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Arsenal's Leah Williamson will have the honour of captaining hosts England at UEFA Women's EURO 2022, and is hoping that this will be the moment for her side to shine.
Under coach Sarina Wiegman, who led the Netherlands to unexpected glory at the 2017 tournament, England are hoping to make it to their third final – having lost out in the 1984 and 2009 editions – and maybe even take that first victory. Recently appointed by Wiegman as her permanent captain in succession to Steph Houghton, the 25-year-old Williamson, a defender regularly fielded as a holding midfielder by the new England coach, tells UEFA.com about the honour of wearing the armband for the hosts.
On group stage opponents Austria, Norway and Northern Ireland
I think it's trickier than people think. Norway are the top seeds below us in the group, which obviously tees it up for a good game, and a physical game, but they've also got some really technical players. Those Austria and Northern Ireland games: we've played them twice in the past year leading up to [the finals], which makes it a tasty game, because we know so much about each other.
Who are my favourites to do well in the finals? This is the first time maybe that there's been so many teams that anyone could place their bets on. Obviously, Spain, [with their] Barcelona players, their success speaks for itself. You've got France, who are obviously a force, but then you've got Germany, Sweden, Holland; all of these teams could really run away with it, so it's going to be a tasty summer.
On what it would take to reach the final
We're very fortunate now that we have a lot of talented players within the team that have won [trophies] domestically. You look at the likes of Lucy Bronze, such a decorated footballer, and that adds so much value to our team. But to get over that line, until we do it, it's a question of belief. Can you do it? Can you go further than you've gone?
Obviously, this England team has been in a final before but not been successful, so we have the benefit of not doing it; we can just do it our way, and however that works out this summer, it's not a prescribed way to win or to get further than we have before. It's just about taking each day as it comes, and when we get there, I think we'll know, hopefully, how to make that next step.
On captaining England on home soil
Walking out as captain at a home EUROs will be the biggest honour of my life, so I'm really excited. I feel like I'm ready. [With the] national team, it's different to club football: you can't buy winners; you have to make them. And we're on that journey, but to be able to bring in somebody like Sarina [Wiegman] with that experience, that know-how of how to win, is almost priceless to us.
[Women] were banned [from playing official games] for 50 years in this country [from 1921 to 1971], and I think if you look at the journey we've been on, now is the right time. We're here for the long run and we're building something for future generations and, hopefully, something sustainable that just keeps growing and growing. I'm happy to be part of the journey now, but I'm so jealous of those little girls that are going to follow in our footsteps.