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Fara Williams expresses confidence in England’s chances of winning home Euros

England v Brazil – Women’s International Friendly – Meadow Lane
(Image credit: Mike Egerton)

Fara Williams has no doubt England have a great chance of winning this summer’s home Euros – but has stressed that the strength of rivals means it will take “some doing”.

The Lionesses will bid for glory having gone as far as the semi-finals at their last three major tournaments, and twice had Euros runners-up finishes, in 1984 and 2009.

The team – in World Cup qualifying action away against North Macedonia on Friday and then Northern Ireland on Tuesday – are unbeaten under boss Sarina Wiegman, winning seven of nine matches, and lifting the Arnold Clark Cup in February.

England won the Arnold Clark Cup in February (Nick Potts/PA).

England won the Arnold Clark Cup in February (Nick Potts/PA)

Former midfielder Williams, England’s record appearance-maker with 172 caps, told the PA news agency: “They have the best chance – I truly believe they have the best balance, the best squad depth that they’ve ever had in any tournament.

“But I’m also not naive to think that the other nations aren’t equally as good – the likes of Spain, Sweden, who nobody has spoken about, Holland who are the holders (having won Euro 2017 under Wiegman), Germany who always turn up in tournaments, France who probably have the best frontline in women’s international football at the moment.

“There’s a lot of teams out there that will be believing that they can win this tournament, England being one, and of course, being a massive England fan, I hope the girls can go and do it.

“But it’s going to take some doing, because it’s going to be the most competitive Euros, certainly since I’ve been a player. We have a genuine chance but it’s going to take some doing.”

She added of the tournament: “It’s not just (in terms of) England that it is great – I think also in terms of people wanting to see a competitive women’s game, because there are so many good national teams now in Europe. I think any ticket anybody manages to get, the game will certainly be competitive, which is exciting. It’s not been like that before in tournament football.”

Games that sold out on the opening day of tickets going on general sale included the final, which takes place at Wembley. The tournament kicks off with England playing Austria at Old Trafford on July 6.

England were also Euros hosts in 2005, and Williams said: “Even back then when the women’s game was nowhere near the position it is now, I remember playing at the Etihad Stadium (in that tournament) and there was a 30,000 crowd.

“When I look back to 2005 and the support we got, when the game wasn’t in a good place, to think where it’s going to be this summer and how exciting it is, it’s going to be massive.”

Fara Williams made a record 172 appearances for England (Adam Davy/PA).

Fara Williams made a record 172 appearances for England (Adam Davy/PA)

On Tuesday England’s captain for the Euros was named, with Leah Williamson getting the nod from Wiegman having already skippered during the injury-enforced absence of Steph Houghton, who hopes to recover from Achilles surgery in time for the tournament.

Williams, speaking before that announcement was made, described the 25-year-old Williamson as “a great leader…(who) plays and speaks with the maturity of somebody a lot older”.

And regarding Houghton, she said: “She certainly is somebody that would be a miss if she wasn’t to make it. But the important thing is she has to be fit to go. She has years ahead of her to continue to play if she keeps herself in great shape. There are other tournaments out there for Steph to be a part of if she doesn’t make this one.”

Just prior to the Euros this summer is the 2022 Soccer Aid for UNICEF match.

Williams is preparing for June's Soccer Aid for UNICEF match (Daniel Hambury/PA).

Williams is preparing for June’s Soccer Aid for UNICEF match (Daniel Hambury/PA)

Williams, who retired last summer, is preparing to make her second appearance in the event, and the former Everton, Liverpool, Arsenal and Reading player said: “It was an unbelievable experience, and I’m really grateful that I have the opportunity to go back again.

“The atmosphere created in the build-up and the training, the competitive banter, the whole experience is just truly fantastic. And it’s bigger than that, with what they do for kids around the world, which is truly amazing. Last year it was a record in terms of money raised, and I’m sure we’ll go better again this year.”

:: Soccer Aid for UNICEF 2022 takes place on Sunday June 12 at the London Stadium. A family of four can attend the game for just £60 – buy your tickets at socceraid.org.uk/tickets

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