LONDON — For over 50 years, English soccer fans have hoped, prayed and sung that a major trophy would “come home.” Now it finally has. And they can hardly contain themselves.
On Monday, pictures of the Lionesses, as the team is known, dominated the front pages of British newspapers after their 2-1 win over Germany at Wembley Stadium in London, the headlines lauding the new European champions as “game changers” or “history makers” and declaring “No more years of hurt.”
Trafalgar Square, the site of a huge viewing party a day before, was the scene for more jubilation, as thousands turned out for a trophy-lifting ceremony with the team.
Many fans arrived in team jerseys, carried England flags and sang “Three Lions” — the song whose “football’s coming home” chorus had come to express English fans’ yearning for a trophy — by heart as the team took to the stage.
“We said we wanted to make our legacy about winning and that’s what we did,” said the team’s captain, Leah Williamson, taking in the crowd’s thunderous applause.
“We’ve changed the game in this country and hopefully across Europe across the world,” she said.
The crowd included families and scores of young girls wearing stickers with the hashtag #LetGirlsPlay, trumpeting aspirations for their future in a sport that for decades forbade their participation, and still fails to offer equal opportunities despite recent improvements.
“It is just so exciting for a young woman who grew up playing football seeing them fly so high,” said Savannah Xanthe. 18, who came to the ceremony wrapped in an English flag with her two sisters.
“Women don’t get a chance to be taken seriously in soccer,” said Amy Symonds, 33, who plays soccer in Bristol. She said she was shaking with excitement while watching the match yesterday. “This shows what we can do and it must be taken seriously.”
She added that she hoped the victory would bring to the sport the attention that it deserved.
“This is a beginning, not an ending,” she said.
Politicians and royals sent messages and congratulations to the team on its victory — a dramatic conclusion that had parallels to England’s last major championship, in 1966, when the country hosted the men’s World Cup and its team defeated Germany in the final.
But the success held the potential to go beyond national pride and euphoria, with women’s soccer occupying the public consciousness in Britain like never before.
More than 600,000 tickets were sold for the European Championship, more than double the total for any previous edition of the women’s tournament, and the final was the most-watched television program in Britain this year,