UEFA Women’s Euro 2022: What Nigeria can learn from England 

By Harry Awurumibe, Africa’s No.1 Women Football Journalist

Celebration Time…England women’s football team players celebrating their UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 Championship victory last Sunday in London.

It took only 10 months for England senior women’s football team, Three Lionesses’ Head Coach, Sarina Petronella Wingman- Glotzbach to guide England to UEFA Euro Women’s Championship victory after several years of trophy drought in both men and women  football competitions.

For 56 years, England could only boast of the 1966 FIFA World Cup triumph and since then the country’s senior men and women’s football teams have neither won UEFA nor FIFA football trophy until Sarina Wiegman led her English ladies to win the UEFA Euro Women’s Championship trophy on Sunday, July 31, 2022.
Goals from Manchester United women’s Ella Toone and Manchester City’s and Chloe Kelly secured Sarina Wiegman’s side a deserved victory against eight-time European champions Germany.
The 2-1 victory was played out in front of a record crowd of 87,192 at Wembley Stadium, beating the highest total recorded in either the men’s or women’s editions of the tournament.
For two days, England players, coaching crew and backroom staff as well as their numerous fans  celebrated their Euro 2022 success in front of a packed Trafalgar Square in London on Monday, August 1, 2022 just as the celebrations will continue for a long time to come.
The British Monarch, Queen of England, Her Royal Majesty, Elizabeth II, and prominent individuals including Three Lions Captain, Harry Keane have praised the new European Queens. More messages of goodwill will continue to come the way of the team for the landmark achievement at a time most English people have given up hope of a football trophy “Coming Home” to England, the birth place of  football.
But this home coming may not have been possible on Sunday if the England Football Association (The FA) leadership had not in their wisdom appointed Sarina Wiegman as Head Coach of the Three Lionesses of England a year ago.
The FA had in August 2020 poached Sarina Wiegman from The Netherlands Football Association where she was Head Coach of the Oranje Ladies whom she also led to UEFA Euro Women’s Championship title few years ago. She signed a four-year contract and the appointment made her the first non-British permanent Lionesses manager. Norwegian Hege Riise had assumed the role on an interim basis in January 2021 until Wiegman could take over.

My Big Prize…England Head Coach Sarina Wiegman lifting the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 Trophy for the second time last Sunday in London.

The Dutch only joined the England senior women’s football team in September 2021 and 10 months later she delivered a major trophy to her employers.

This is incredible, considering the fact that there are many capable English professional football coaches that could have landed the top job after Phil Neville left as Head Coach alongside his Assistant, Beverly Priestman who is the current Head Coach of the Canada women’s national team. Both quit the Three Lionesses job after guiding the team to the last four in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup final in France.
However, it has taken Sarina Wiegman, who also in 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup led the Netherlands to the final of the tournament, but were defeated 0–2 by the United States, a little time to deliver a major title to England. She could not have done less as she has had an illustrious career in both club and national teams management within a short space of time.
Wiegman’s first game in charge in England was an 8–0 win against North Macedonia to begin 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualification. On November 30, 2021, England under her set a new national record with a 20–0 win over Latvia during World Cup qualifying tie.
 The previous record was 13–0 against Hungary, set in 2005. The match was Wiegman’s sixth in charge and maintained her 100% record with the Lionesses, outscoring their opponents 53–0 during that time.
She has now led the team to victory in the final of UEFA Women’s Euro 2022, at Wembley Stadium in London, with a 2–1 victory against Germany in the final.
The win also meant she became the fourth manager to retain the Euros title, and the first, in either men’s or women’s, to win the Euros with two different countries, having coached her native Netherlands to the title in 2017.

Master Tactician…Coach Sarina Wiegman telling her player how to score against the stubborn Germans in the championship final last Sunday

Today, Wiegman has entered the exclusive list of football tacticians who have delivered major trophies, although she is yet to win FIFA World Cup or Olympics Gold Medal like FIFA World Cup-winning managers such as 1991-Anson Dorrance-United States; 1995-Even Pellerud-Norway; 1999- Tony DiCicco-United States; 2003- Tina Theune-Meyer-Germany; 2007-Silvia Neid’Germany; 2011-Norio Sasaki-Japan; 2015-Jill Ellis-United States and 2019-Jill Ellis-England /United States as well as Pia Sundhage of Sweden, currently Head Coach of Brazil.

Wiegman, a Physical Education teacher, a job she would keep for the rest of her career,   received her full Coaching Licence in 2016 and became the first woman to work as coach at a Dutch professional men’s  football organisation.
After being appointed Head Coach of the Netherlands national team, Wiegman led them to victory at the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017. Two years later, she guided the team to a runners-up medal at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Like in the case of England, the European Championship win signified the Netherlands Women’s first European Championship title and first ever major honour in women’s football as Wiegman became the second Dutch coach to lead the national team to a major honour, after Rinus Michels at the men’s UEFA Euro 1988.
On October 23, 2017, Wiegman was awarded The Best FIFA Women’s Coach title at that year’s The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony, ahead of Denmark coach Nils Nielsen and Lyon coach Gérard Prêcheur. Two days later, she was accepted as a Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau at a ceremony which saw the entire European Championship-winning team receive the same honour.
After securing qualification for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Wiegman led the Netherlands to the final of the tournament. The team again received praise for their style of play on the way to the final.
On July 9, 2019, it was announced a likeness of Wiegman will be added to the Statue Garden of the Dutch Football Association, KNVB, for her contributions to Dutch football. She is the first woman to receive such honour.

First Time Lucky… Sarina Wiegman the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 Trophy she won with her native Netherlands for the first time-ever

*Wiegman’s Managerial Statistics as at July 31, 2022*

Managerial Record by Team and Tenure:
December 23, 2016 to August 31, 2021
P   W   D  L   GF   GA   GD   Win %
72 52   9  11  205  54  +151   72.22
September 1, 2021 to present
P    W   D  L   GF   GA   GD    Win %
20  18   2  0   106    5    +101    90.00
*Career Totals*
 P    W    D     L   GF   GA     GD     Win%
92   70  11   11  311   59   +252   76.09
With the above mentioned intimidating track records of performance, The FA should be commended for its foresight to  headhunt Wiegman without inviting all manner of coaches for phantom “job interviews” as it often happens in most African countries including Nigeria.
Only the Royal Moroccan Football Federation has recently headhunted the Atlas Lionesses of Morocco’s Head Coach, Reynald Pedros who few weeks ago helped Morocco to qualify for her first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup and also finished second in the CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) for the first time too.
Pedros had won two UEFA Euro Women’s Champions League titles with Lyon Feminine in France
and a couple of French Women’s Elite League trophies before he was appointed to take charge of Morocco senior women’s football team.
The two examples of England and Morocco women’s teams achievements within the shortest possible time of the appointment of quality coaches in Wiegman and Pedros are glaring evidence that you cannot sow cassava and harvest yam.
This is not possible and this is the dilemma of most African countries where their football authorities hire foreign coaches who came without track records of past achievements like Wiegman and Pedros hence poor results these low-profile expatriates churn out to the disappointment of their employers.

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