England head coach Sarina Wiegman isn’t known for being overly emotional or for wearing her heart on her sleeve. When it comes to press conferences and interviews, the Dutchwoman is always so laser-focused on whatever the task is, so calm and composed under pressure and, admittedly, she doesn’t always enjoy the moment because she is concentrating on her job.
But after leading the Lionesses to a first ever Women’s World Cup final, becoming the first coach to take two different teams to the showpiece event, she couldn’t help but get swept up in what it meant. “It's like I'm living a fairy tale or something," she told the BBC.
Wiegman’s recent record does read like some sort of fiction, too. After leading her native Netherlands to an unprecedented triumph at their home Euros in 2017, she guided the Oranje to the final of the World Cup just two years later, only defeated by a mighty United States team. Both of those were firsts for the Dutch.
Upon taking the England job in September 2021, expectations were pretty high, then. The Lionesses had reached three successive major tournament semi-finals, but had not gotten over that hurdle. That has all changed under Wiegman.
Last year, England beat Germany in extra- time at a packed Wembley Stadium to win the Euros for the first time. It was a success that captured the hearts of an entire nation and changed the lives of the players forever. Twelve months on, there’s an even bigger achievement at stake. On Sunday, England could back that up by winning the Women’s World Cup for the very first time, too.
“When you make the first final, you think, ‘This is really special. It might not happen again,’” Wiegman said after her side beat Australia in the semi-finals on Wednesday. “Then you make a second, a third, a fourth, but you think it might not happen again because it’s so hard.”
She couldn’t help reverting back to that laser-focus, though, adding at the end of her answer: “But then tomorrow I’m just going to prepare for Spain! We just want to win the final.”
It’s one of the qualities that makes her completely unrivalled in international management. If it wasn’t certain before, England’s run to this Women’s World Cup final has only confirmed that Wiegman is in a league of her own.