England manager Sarina Wiegman had to pass as a boy to play football, but was given her Dutch debut by the former Sunderland boss and has already won the Women’s Euro.


England are among the favorites to win the European Championships this summer and much of that is down to coach Sarina Wiegman.

The Lionesses crashed out in the semi-finals at the last tournament in 2017, losing to the Netherlands who went on to beat Denmark for the trophy.

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Wiegman hopes to engineer another home Euro win

But in addition to this year’s edition being played at home, England have since signed Wiegman – who orchestrated that 3-0 last-four win en route to Dutch glory.

The 52-year-old, who already had a good idea of ​​what it takes to succeed on the big stage, also revealed that she shares ideas with her male counterpart, Gareth Southgate.

Asked about her conversations with Southgate, Wiegman said, “We share experiences. It’s good. I think we care about people.

“Yes, we want to win and you have the best players in the country, but you have to have a clear plan and communicate it at all times and also create an environment where players dare to do things.

“You make mistakes, but you learn from mistakes. We had these discussions about how to make winning teams.

“It starts with a safe environment, a clear plan and communication with the players. It is also a question of the quality of the players.

Wiegman took over from Phil Neville as permanent England manager in September

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Wiegman took over from Phil Neville as permanent England manager in September


Wiegman’s comparisons to Southgate also go back to their playing days, with both international defenders in their prime.

Yet it was a much more arduous journey for Chief Lioness, who had to pose as a boy to play football as a child in the Netherlands.

“When I started playing football at the age of six, we weren’t allowed to play, so I played illegally,” she told BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast.

Wiegman added: “I had very short hair, looked a bit like a boy, my parents were really good and I had a twin brother, so we just started playing and everyone said it was okay. .

“It wasn’t normal then and now it’s just normal, whether you’re a boy or a girl, you can play football and it’s just great.

“It was actually crazy before, that you couldn’t, but that’s how it is in development, I guess.”

Wiegman began her coaching career with the ADO Den Haag women's teams

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Wiegman began her coaching career with the ADO Den Haag women’s teams

As a player, she made her international debut aged just 17 by former Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat in her only game in charge.

Wiegman became the first Dutch centurion with an appearance against Denmark in 2001.

After becoming a coach, she remained a pioneer by becoming the first woman to coach with a men’s professional club in her native country.

Wiegman helped Sparta Rotterdam finish seventh during her one-season stint as an assistant in 2016.

Writing in Coaches’ Voice, she said: “The players had to get used to me and I had to get used to them too.

“As the only female coach there, I knew I had to show that I had quality. That’s what I worked on all day. Work hard, put quality in everything and deliver .

“It was a new environment for me – the first time I had worked with a professional men’s team.

“At the beginning, I always wondered: am I doing the right things? But I watched how Alex and his coaches worked. I understood things.

Wiegman already knows how to win the Women's Euro

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Wiegman already knows how to win the Women’s Euro

Wiegman’s biggest challenge now is to bring his side closer to his male counterparts and finally bring football home.

She told talkSPORT: “Of course we hope [we win].

“We are going to do our best to perform at the highest level and yes, there are so many countries who want to win. We want to win too!

“We’re going to give everything we can to make the most of it and finish as high as possible and do it game by game.”

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