“The chance to make it to finals, as a coach or a player, is really special. We’ve made it to four already. I won’t take it for granted but I’m in a little fairy tale.”
An emotional Sarina Wiegman is a sight to behold. Usually rock-steady, she’s the first coach in the history of the women’s game to win back-to-back European titles. And now the first to take two different nations to a World Cup final.
It takes a special person to oversee four major international tournaments and make it to the final of each and every one. Such is the Dutchwoman’s fortitude and conviction, it comes as no surprise to onlookers England are down to the final two in Australia, 12 months after being crowned continental champions on home soil.
The question was posed to a teary-eyed Wiegman after beating the tournament co-hosts in Sydney on Wednesday, ‘how do you keep making it to finals?’ “I don’t know,” she replied, modestly. Perhaps the intensity of the occasion overwhelmed her in that very moment, against the backdrop of a deafening crowd, but the answer Wiegman gave was somewhat unjust.
To suggest, for even a second, England’s journey to this World Cup final has been anything but painstakingly planned is doing the architect a disservice. Every eventuality is meticulously mapped out – game plans with detail to cater for every individual need are discussed and debated. And collective threads of ideas are sought too, allowing space for sharing and collaboration between players, technical staff, and coaches.
Wiegman takes her role as decision maker very seriously, she’s scarcely seen without her notepad and pencil, but emphasis is always on the group. It’s a pack mentality. A counsel of co-conspirators. And to take personal credit for England’s overall achievements simply isn’t the Dutchwoman’s style.