English football is set to ensure that the host country’s run to the Euro 2022 final leaves a lasting legacy.
Arina Wigman’s team beat Sweden 4-0 in the first semi-final at Bramall Lane and booked their place in Sunday’s Wembley match against France or Germany.
Beth Mead, Lucy Bronze, Alessia Russo and Fran Kirby found the net and Ian Wright felt “as proud as I’ve ever felt for any English team”.
But he had a warning for those running the game, saying on the BBC: “Whatever happens in the final now, if girls are not allowed to play football in their PE, just like boys, what are we doing?
“We have to make sure they can play and get the opportunity to do so.
“If it doesn’t have a legacy – as is the case with the Olympics – then what do we do as it’s as proud as I’ve ever felt for any English team.”
Former England and Arsenal defender Alex Scott believes the team’s success is the result of years of hard work in developing the women’s game.
“It’s hard for me not to get emotional right now, because the amount of investment invested in the women’s game at the moment is this,” she told the BBC.
“In order for this team to get to Wembley, they create something special and deserve every accolade they get.
“But (after) the FA’s investment, everyone involved in women’s football has been waiting for this moment. It’s special.”
Scott was impressed with the team’s effort it took to reach the final this weekend.
“Is that true? What England have shown throughout this tournament, which is an absolute honor for them, is all sides (of the game),” she said.
“You saw them get upset in the first match, you saw them beat Norway, you saw them on the edge against Spain and today a clean and smart England found a way to get back in the game and push Sweden away.
“There were different players in every England game.”
Former England midfielder Farah Williams said Wigman’s team had answered any questions regarding their ability to compete in the tournament.
“I have no words to explain or express my feelings. I am very proud of the girls and what they have done,” she told BBC One.
“They had a tough quarter-final and it was a game and people, myself included, were wondering at what level they could get this far and they went on to dominate the team (world number two).
“The game is in a fantastic location. I’m very excited about the final on Sunday. I don’t care who they get.”
England’s win earned praise from members of the men’s team, which reached the final of the European Championship last summer.
Men’s team captain Harry Kane tweeted, “Yes @Lionesses! Take it to the final” and Raheem Sterling highlighted the link between mead and bronze that led to the first two goals.
England record holder Wayne Rooney tweeted: “What a performance by the @Lionesses tonight. The well-deserved finale of #WEURO2022 is approaching. Congratulations to all players and staff.”