Younger fans of the Lionesses could be forgiven for thinking they're watching a footballing powerhouse that has dominated the women's game for the past 30 years.
In reality, England Women were a long way behind their rivals for years before recent successes. From a lack of professional clubs across the nation, to a lack of experience and confidence in the latter stages of competitions, it was long clear that the Lionesses were failing to live up to their enormous potential.
That was, until Sarina Wiegmann's charges stormed to victory at Euro 2022, thanks to the efforts of a smart, strong and flexible group of players, and a perfect blend of youth and experience. For defender Alex Greenwood, who starred for England at Euro 2022 and hopes to do the same again at this summer's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, the biggest change has been psychological.
“Over the course of the 10 years I’ve played with England, we have definitely changed mentality-wise more than ability-wise,” defender Alex Greenwood tells FFT. “I think the ability has always been there – we’ve always had enough top-level players to compete with the world’s best teams – but I don’t know if the mentality or the ruthlessness were there."
For Greenwood, the 2021 decision to replace Phil Neville, who had led the Lionesses over the previous three years, with Dutch coach Sarina Wiegmann, has been key to that evolution.
“Sarina has changed so many things about England and how we approach things, the direction we want to head in, the language that we use… that clarity for every player to think as a footballer can be difficult to find sometimes," concludes Greendwood. "When you’ve got it, everything takes care of itself.”
More Women's World Cup 2023 stories
England manager Sarina Wiegman implemented some bonding methods for the England team that proved pivotal in the Lionesses' Euro 2022 success.
Georgia Stanway acknowledges that the Lionesses are a different animal compared to last year, suggesting "the dynamic has changed but we’re still an unbelievable squad".
Meanwhile, FFT columnist Jules Breach says that England can still win the World Cup, despite the loss of experience in the side.
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Ed is a staff writer at FourFourTwo, working across the magazine and website. A German speaker, he’s been working as a football reporter in Berlin since 2015, predominantly covering the Bundesliga and Germany's national team. Favourite FFT features include an exclusive interview with Jude Bellingham following the youngster’s move to Borussia Dortmund in 2020, a history of the Berlin Derby since the fall of the Wall and a celebration of Kevin Keegan’s playing career.