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Sarina Wiegman on England's journey to Women's EURO 2022 glory

"You don't win a tournament with 11 players," insisted England manager Sarina Wiegman as she explained how togetherness and honesty were crucial to UEFA Women's EURO 2022 success.

Wiegman: 'England glory still feels unreal'

Hired as England head coach in 2021, having led the Netherlands to a shock success on home soil at UEFA Women's EURO 2017, Sarina Wiegman showed her coaching sparkle again as she once more led the hosts to glory at UEFA Women's EURO 2022.

Tactically astute, but with superb soft skills, the experienced former central midfielder successfully engaged the whole England team in the project, despite using the same starting XI in all six games at the finals. As the official technical report for the tournament is published, the 53-year-old spoke about her experience at the finals.

On her biggest finals challenges

My biggest challenge personally was getting COVID [missing the last group game against Northern Ireland]. Of course we knew that could happen, so that was one of the scenarios, and we set things in place [regarding] how we would solve such a situation. I was in my room a lot, but I also went outside, just walking by myself and staying connected with the team and the staff.

All of England's Women's EURO 2022 goals

On the main difference between EURO 2017 and EURO 2022 

The tactics were better from all the other teams. In 2017, basically every team played a 4-4-2, which was easy tactically, and now we had a lot more challenges in that [respect]. The game has developed so much in five years that: the speed and the power of the game was higher than five years ago.

Leah Williamson, England midfielder

"I don't think our greatest strength, being English, is our directness. We kind of beat around the bush a little bit, and [Sarina Wiegman] came in [and] instilled that in us. It doesn't have to be a negative, but if something needs sorting, sort it, and I think that's what she's done. That was probably the biggest change in that mentality shift."

On laying the ground for England's success

 Sarina Wiegman with her players after the opening win against Austria
Sarina Wiegman with her players after the opening win against AustriaGetty Images

[It was about] talking to a lot of people and, most importantly, talking to players and then, together, setting the goals and also how we approached that: "What's the story we tell [whilst] also being very authentic?" We don't want everyone to say the same things, but we do want to spread the same … I think "narrative" is what you say.

On keeping her squad driven

We very much had togetherness. There was already a strong team, of course, with the fundamentals there already, but what we really did was communicate with players about where they were at that moment, what their position in the team was and how we could help them in their development. Before the tournament started, it was clear what the role was for every player, and we asked them to accept that role. Everyone really wanted to do very well and wanted us to be successful, and everyone wanted to make sacrifices to make that happen.

You don't win a tournament with 11 players. We are all really, really thankful to every player who has contributed to this great success. A lot of players you don't see, but they've been very, very important for the development of this team.

Beth Mead, England forward

"She man-managed every single player in that squad. No one was more important than anyone else. We win as a team and we put in that hard work for nine weeks as a team before. In that sense, she got it very, very right."

On the 2-1 final win against Germany 

It could have gone both ways. We scored the [first] goal – of course, that was an incredible goal! But after that, Germany came back very strong[ly] and when they [made it] 1-1, we had a hard time.

And then in [extra] time, they had to [make substitutions] and we had to [make substitutions] too and I thought that we got more chances because some very good players had to leave the pitch for them and, as we know, the strength and depth in our team could make a difference more than the German team could.

I think when we [made it] 2-1, the team was so convinced that we could [hold out] and not give it away again and you could see it on the pitch; that was, for me, the turning point. You could see in the team that they were so convinced that now we would [hold out and that we were] going to manage the game, and that's what the team did.

Women's EURO final highlights: England 2-1 Germany

On dealing with media attention

I was aware of it, but I stayed away from it. We stayed at the Lensbury – we could stay there, very familiar; it was very nice to be there. It was calm all the time [without many] people coming in and out all the time, so we could really focus on football and stick with our plan on and off the pitch.

That was crucial, staying away from the hype and just waiting until we won the tournament and then party a lot.

Georgia Stanway, England midfielder

"Whenever we went into a game, it was all about us – nothing to do with the opposition: 'What are we going to do? How are we going to do this?' You just felt so equal and so safe within the environment. Whether you played one minute or whether you played 90 minutes across every single game; whether you scored five [goals] or you didn't score at all; whether you didn't see the pitch or whether you played every single minute – everybody just knew exactly where they were."

On her feelings after the final whistle in the final

I was just waiting for the whistle at the end, of course. I thought: "Come on, whistle!" But then when the final whistle goes and the noise – I could hear it [but I was still] in my own bubble a little bit. Then I was so, like, we just did it. It's just incredible; it still feels a little unreal and I just turned around to my staff and everyone was running on the pitch. Yes, that's actually one of the highlights of my career but still a little bit unreal.

On the EURO 2022 legacy

The players are now very inspirational to the whole society, for girls and boys. Everyone can see women playing football and all sides having fun and enjoying the game. But some of those girls might get a professional career. It's possible now and 50 years ago that was impossible. And that's what everyone sees now. You can get any role in football and be successful and even make a living out of it.

England players invade Wiegman's post-final press conference
England players invade Wiegman's post-final press conferenceUEFA via Getty Images