01.08.2022, Großbritannien, London: Fußball, Frauen: EM, England - Deutschland, Finalrunde, nach dem Finale im Wembley-Stadion: Englische Fans schwenken Fahnen, während sie auf die Ankunft ihrer Fußballnationalmannschaft am Trafalgar Square warten. England hat Deutschland mit 2:1 geschlagen und das Finale der Frauen-Europameisterschaft 2022 gewonnen. Foto: James Manning/PA/AP/dpa - ACHTUNG: Nur zur redaktionellen Verwendung und nur mit vollständiger Nennung des vorstehenden Credits +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

A few minutes after the final whistle, Chloe Kelly stood exhausted in front of the BBC camera and was asked about her emotions. Since the winning goalscorer found it difficult to put this into words, she simply turned around for a moment. “Just look at ’em,” she said. Just look at the people. Because both with the almost 90,000 spectators in the stands and on the pitch, you let your emotions run wild. England captain Leah Williamson cried with joy. Thousands danced at the public viewings in Trafalgar Square and Manchester Piccadilly. At the press conference, the players stormed the room and sang “Football’s Coming Home.”

As coach Sarina Wiegman emphasized there, her team made history with their 2-1 victory in the European Championship final. The 56 years of pain were over and England had finally won a major title in football again. As in the legendary final of the men’s World Cup in 1966, they had defeated old favorite rivals Germany in extra time at home at Wembley Stadium.

It has always been the dream of every English football fan to end the title drought in this stadium against this opponent of all people. But few would have guessed that women would be the first to do it.

When they were in a final for the last time, the English women lost as blatant underdogs against the superiority of Germany. This time they started the day as favorites themselves. By the time night fell they were already legends.

On Monday morning, the Lionesses’ triumph was omnipresent across the island. Every newspaper – even the otherwise reputable Financial Times – had a picture of the players on the front page. “Roarsome!” headlined the Daily Star. “It wasn’t a dream, we actually defeated the Germans in a final!” wrote the Daily Mail.

The Guardian referred more to the greater importance of women’s football, praising the EM heroes as “game changers”. As always on such occasions, there was a bit of English hubris. “The world celebrates with the Lionesses,” said one commentator on the BBC shortly after the final whistle.

In a pub in north Wales, however, only a few spectators cheered the victory. At the bar, a Scottish tourist ordered a portion of fries and told the bartender that whatever the sport, he was always against England.

So it wasn’t a triumph for the whole world or even for the whole island, but it was an extremely important triumph for the future of football in England. As in Germany, more than 17 million viewers tuned in to the television and, as in Germany, it is hoped that this sudden popularity will prove lasting. “You have set an example for many girls and women today and for generations to come,” the Queen wrote in her official message of congratulations.

But not only women’s football should benefit from this victory, but English football as a whole. Because it has been shown that with smart investment, long-term planning and experts in the right places, you can build a team that is capable of winning the title.

In a hard-fought final, they also displayed exactly those virtues that so many English teams had lacked in the past. The cleverness to take the lead over time and the fighting tenacity in overtime.

The latter exuded the veteran Jill Scott, whose profane tirade at Sydney Lohmann in extra time immediately became one of the most iconic moments in English football history. By the way, when she came on, Scott became the first English soccer player ever to play in the final of a major tournament twice.

That alone speaks volumes about the significance of this victory for the motherland of football. Whether for men or women, major finals have been a rarity in national team history and titles have been virtually unknown.

But that has changed since Sunday. The day after, thousands of fans made the pilgrimage to Trafalgar Square in London to celebrate their team under the statue of Lord Nelson. “England expects every man to do his duty,” said the old admiral before one of his glorious 18th-century naval victories. But in the end it was the women who delivered.