What we can all learn from our heroic Lionesses

England players celebrate in front of the fans after winning the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 final

England players celebrate in front of the fans after winning the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 final at Wembley Stadium - Credit: PA

"You think it's all over? It's only just begun."

Those were the words of Gabby Logan after Chloe Kelly fired England to their first ever European title and the country's first major tournament win since 1966. 

More than 87,000 fans at Wembley and a peak TV audience of 17.4m witnessed the Lionesses make history with the likes of Dame Joan Collins, Shania Twain and David Beckham rushing to congratulate the squad on social media. 

It was a stark contrast to when 2,567 watched England lose on penalties in Luton in the final of the 1984 European Women's Championship.

England's Ellen White and Jill Scott lift the trophy as England celebrate winning the Euros

England's Ellen White and Jill Scott lift the trophy as England celebrate winning the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 final at Wembley Stadium - Credit: PA

Sixteen years after that final I first started playing football at the age of eight at a community session in Attleborough having never seen any women play the sport.

Looking back I probably had very little skill at that time and just wanted to do what I saw my twin brother and his friends doing.

Nevertheless, I was invited to train at the Norwich City set-up and before I knew it was representing the Canaries across the country and playing for local clubs in Norfolk.  

Mulbarton Belles 'A' Under 11 football team, who won the Norfolk Womens & Girls League Under 11 Cup

Jessica Long, back row second from the right, celebrating a cup win with Mulbarton Belles in 2004 - Credit: Supplied

Most Read

During this time in the noughties, I cannot remember any coverage on the TV, other than the FA Cup final, and as an aspiring journalist, I would scour the back pages of the tabloids looking for any mention of women's sport in general. 

The only place where I could read about the likes of Rachel Yankey and Faye White was in the Fair Game magazine which was hardly sold in any newsagents. 

There is no doubt that even before the heroics on Sunday that attitudes towards the women's game have changed since England played Germany in front of 15,000 people in Helsinki in 2009.

England's Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly following victory over Germany in the UEFA Women's Euro 2022

England's Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly following victory over Germany in the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 final at Wembley Stadium - Credit: PA

Players in the Women's Super League are now fully-paid professionals, some of the biggest names are in high-profile advertising campaigns and Sky Sports and the BBC are showing more matches than ever.

But there are huge issues in society and football we still need to overcome if this country can be a real beacon of women's sport.

So let's use what we have learned from Sarina Wiegman and her 23 players to continue moving in the right direction.

England players on stage during a fan celebration to commemorate England's historic win

England players on stage during a fan celebration to commemorate England's historic UEFA Women's EURO 2022 triumph in Trafalgar Square - Credit: PA

Leah Williamson's leadership skills, Beth Mead's decisiveness, Alessia Russo's audacity and Chloe Kelly's unbridled joy are just some of the values that we can all bring into our own lives, whether we are kicking a ball or not.

And let's not forget all the women who fought for the right to take to a football pitch, worked numerous jobs before they even turned up to training and who battled outdated and misogynistic views from people who were not good enough to clean their boots.

This was just not for football fans and women everywhere - this one was for you.