England fans cheer heroic Lionesses at Trafalgar Square victory celebrations

Fans descend on central London to celebrate England's 2-1 victory over Germany

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A sea of flags and raucous cheering met the victorious England Lionesses as they paraded the Euro 2022 trophy on Monday at a celebration at London's Trafalgar Square.

Despite many of the players having not slept after making the most of their victory over Germany, the team attended a swiftly prepared party in the heart of London alongside 7,000 screaming fans.

To chants of "Football's Coming Home", the team took to the stage before lifting the trophy once more and enjoying a ticker-tape parade. Many of the players wore T-shirts with "Home" emblazoned across the front, while match-winner Chloe Kelly serenaded the crowd with a rendition of Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline while dancing on stage.

Captain Leah Williamson summed up the past day by saying: “I think we’ve partied more than we actually played football in the last 24 hours.” She will be given the Freedom of the New City of Milton Keynes in recognition of her achievement.

She said: "I think England have hosted an incredible tournament and we've changed the game in this country and hopefully across Europe and across the world. But we said we wanted to make our legacy about winning and that's what we did."

The team has been credited with inspiring the nation and the win has led to hopes that it will create a surge in interest in women's football.

The Lionesses beat Germany 2-1 after extra time in front of 87,000 supporters at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, securing the first major tournament title for the country since 1966 and setting a television viewing record.

It attracted a peak TV audience of 17.4 million, a record for a women’s football match in the UK, according to overnight ratings released by the BBC.

The previous record was set during England’s 2019 World Cup semi-final defeat by the United States, which enjoyed a peak audience of 11.7 million.

There was some criticism of the fact there was no open-top bus parade through the city, which men's teams who reached semi-finals have previously enjoyed. They were also not invited to Downing Street as Prime Minister Boris Johnson was attending the funeral service for former Northern Ireland first minister David Trimble.

Fans in Trafalgar Square, where tickets were provided on a first come, first served basis, hailed the victory as a “massive” moment for women’s football, while the FA’s director of women’s football, Baroness Sue Campbell, said England’s win will make a “phenomenal difference”.

Gia Sangani was one of the fans at the celebration. She told The National: “We were at the match yesterday as well. It was just beautiful. It's a whole new chapter, a monumental moment, there will be so much more importance given to women in sport.”

French tourist Christopher Desilva, said: “It's [a source of'] pride for English people, even the world, and I think it is the best symbol for women's independence.”

One young England fan called Pandora told The National that it was usually only boys who play football at her school, “but now that the Lionesses have won I am brave enough to play football at school as well as at home”.

Ryan Grumbridge, 40, and Gemma Grumbridge, 43, travelled from Oldham to the capital to watch the final with their two daughters.

Mr Grumbridge, who is a coach for the 250-strong girls’ football club Crompton FC, said this is a “massive” moment for women’s football.

England players celebrate on stage in Trafalgar Square. PA

“It’s good for them to get some recognition," he said. "I hope it keeps growing and growing, and we’ll carry on getting decent-sized crowds.”

He said the Lionesses are “fantastic role models” for his daughters Ruby and Amelia, aged 11 and 13.

Yvonne Morrison, 61, took her grandson Ronnie, 9, to catch a glimpse of the Lionesses in Trafalgar Square.

Ms Morrison, from Wiltshire, said it was “just absolutely amazing that they’ve been able to get this far, and that they’ve raised the profile of women’s football, it’s long overdue”.

“Hopefully it will raise their salaries and status. It’s about time they were on an equal par.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: "History makers. Record breakers. Game changers. Incredible scenes at the Trafalgar Square fan party". He said he "couldn’t be more proud" of the Lionesses.

Baroness Campbell told BBC News: “I think it’ll really take it to another level. But I think what happened yesterday was much broader than football.

“I think it will change the perception of women in sport generally, and I hope give women and girls real optimism that if they want to do something in life, whatever it is, if they work at it, they’re going to achieve it.”

Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham said England’s success will “turbo charge” the women’s game in this country.

“The last few years have been incredible,” he said. "We have invested really heavily and the Lionesses have taken their opportunity and they have produced something incredible.

“It’s been an amazing month and an amazing day yesterday.

“I think it will really turbo charge everything we have been doing in the women’s game.

“There is no reason why we shouldn’t have the same number of girls playing as boys and it will inspire a whole new generation of players.”

The celebrations come after Queen Elizabeth II praised the team, saying their “success goes far beyond the trophy”.

She said in a statement: “You have all set an example that will be an inspiration for girls and women today, and for future generations.”

The Duke of Cambridge was among those supporting from the sidelines, and after the match he said it had been “wonderful to see history in the making”, while captain Williamson called it “the proudest moment of my life”.

David Baddiel said it was “beautiful” to hear the football anthem Three Lions sung at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

The comedian, who recorded the classic football song with Frank Skinner and rock band Lightning Seeds in 1996, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s beautiful, it’s fantastic.

“It was beautiful to hear it sung out at Wembley yesterday as we finally clinched a final — I really did think that would never happen.

“It was so amazing to actually think ‘Oh, we won’ — this doesn’t happen.

“It’s actually happened, and then the team all coming into the press conference and anarchically breaking [it] up by singing the song … it was just so brilliant, and so in the spirit of the Lionesses, which is kind of joyful and unbridled and brilliant, the way they play.

“So yes, I was very happy about it.”

Updated: August 01, 2022, 3:24 PM
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