English football has been urged to ensure the host nation’s run to the Euro 2022 final leads to a lasting legacy.
Sarina Wiegman’s side thrashed Sweden 4-0 in the first semi-final at Bramall Lane to book their place in Sunday’s showpiece at Wembley against France or Germany.
Beth Mead, Lucy Bronze, Alessia Russo and Fran Kirby all found the net to leave Ian Wright feeling “as proud as I’ve ever felt of any England side”.
But he had a warning for those who run the game, saying on the BBC: “Whatever happens in the final now, if girls are not allowed to play football in their PE, just like the boys can, what are we doing?
“We have got to make sure they are able to play and get the opportunity to do so.
“If there’s no legacy to this – like with the Olympics – then what are we doing as this is as proud as I’ve ever felt of any England side.”
Former England and Arsenal defender Alex Scott believes the team’s success is a result of years of hard work to grow the women’s game.
“It is hard for me not to get emotional right now because the amount of investment which has gone into the women’s game is for a moment like this,” she said on the BBC.
“For this team to get to Wembley, they are creating something special and deserve every accolade which is coming their way.
“But (after) the FA investment, everyone who has been involved in women’s football has been waiting for this moment. It’s special.”
Scott was impressed by the squad effort it took to reach this weekend’s final.
“Is this real? What England have shown throughout this tournament, which is absolutely a credit to them, is all sides (of the game),” she said.
“You’ve seen them frustrated in their opening game, you’ve seen them blow away Norway, you’ve seen them on the ropes against Spain and today a pure and intelligent England finding a way back into the game and brushing away Sweden.
“Every single game England have had different players step up.”
Bronze 🤝 Mead 🏴🏴🏴— Raheem Sterling (@sterling7) July 26, 2022
Former England midfielder Fara Williams said Wiegman’s side had answered any questions over their ability to go deep into a tournament.
“I don’t have the words to explain or express how it feels. I’m super-proud of the girls and what they have done,” she told BBC One.
“They had a tough quarter-final and it was a game people, myself included, questioned were they at the level to go this far – and they have gone on to dominate the team (ranked) second in the world.
“The game is in a fantastic place. I’m super-excited for the final on Sunday. I don’t care who they get.”
England’s victory earned praise from members of the men’s national team, who reached their European Championship final last summer.
Men’s captain Harry Kane wrote on Twitter: “Yesss @Lionesses ! Bring on the final”, while Raheem Sterling highlighted the Mead and Bronze connection that led to the first two goals.
Record England goalscorer Wayne Rooney tweeted: “What a performance by @Lionesses tonight. A well deserved #WEURO2022 final coming up. Congratulations to all the players and staff”.