High-spirited England fans have begun celebrating as they gear up to watch the Lionesses make history taking on Spain in the Women’s World Cup final.
An army of more than 6,000 are expected to roar on the European champions in Sydney’s Stadium Australia today.
While back home, a bumper crowd of more than 15 million is predicted to watch the historic final on BBC or ITV, packing out fan zones and pubs – with chain Greene King even offering a free drink for fans turning up to boozers wearing either England kit, colours or face paint.
Huge queues are already forming outside Wembley Boxpark fan zone ahead of kick-off, with excitement reaching fever pitch in London.
The Lionesses will be looking to claim the title for the first time, as well as becoming the first England team since 1966 to win a senior final on the world stage, in a match Lionesses captain Millie Bright described as the ‘game of their lives’.
It’s a tournament England has had to battle through, first blighted by injury with some of its biggest stars unable to make the championship, before then losing striking ace Lauren James after she was sent off and banned for the Lionesses’ quarter and semi-final matches.
Despite the setbacks though, supporters are convinced Sarina Wiegman’s squad can pull off an historic win, with fans chanting ‘it’s coming home, it’s coming – football’s coming home’ on their way to watch the clash.
‘Come on England!’ – these young football fans in Sydney were showing their patriotism, sporting England face paint and the English flag as they hope to watch the Lionesses against Spain
Let the party begin! Hundreds of fans have packed into fan zones across the UK to watch the Women’s World Cup final. Pictured are supporters at the Boxpark Croydon on Sunday
And in Croydon, England fans are sinking the pints – with these two supporters opting to buy in bulk as they watch the match from the Boxpark fan zone
England fans have already started packing into Sydney ahead of England’s historic final against Spain
Three lions on tour! These England fans in Sydney were dressed up for the occasion as they arrived at Stadium Australia on Sunday
High-spirited punters have been cheering in the run up to the event, with huge crowds of England fans pictured celebrating in the shadow of Sydney famous Opera House.
Others have been seen dancing and singing on boats as they make their way to fan zones across the Australian city, with many sinking pints along the way.
‘I’m absolutely buzzing, I can’t wait. This is just going to be the best day ever,’ said one fan from outside the Opera House.
Speaking to Sky News, another supporter predicted England would finally bag their first victory in a World Cup final since that fateful 1966 clash against Germany.
‘It’s coming home without a shadow of a doubt,’ she told Sky. ‘We’ve done the hard part now. I think we’ll win tonight, no bother at all.’
She added the stunning success of the Lionesses through the championship was ‘finally putting women’s football where it always belongs – right up there’.
England captain Millie Bright, 29, preparing for the biggest game of her life, said yesterday playing in the final was a dream come true for the players.
Speaking ahead of the match, Chelsea star Millie added: ‘Everyone knows how big this is… As a group we’d like to say thank you, not only to the fans back home but the fans that are here as well. Stick with us one more game.’
Spirits are high in Sydney with more than 6,000 England fans expected to watch Sunday’s final. These fans were sporting England flags and kit – with one even dressed up as a lion
England flags and a pint of beer – these England fans know how to celebrate as they gear up to watch the final
These young England fans in Sydney have come armed with signs and face paint as they gear up to watch the final
Young England fans were in a celebratory mood inside Stadium Australia, Sydney, as the countdown to the Women’s World Cup final began
Some England fans rode through Sydney on an open-top bus, as the party atmosphere ahead of the historic clash reached fever pitch
England fans show their support prior to the FIFA Women’s World Cup final match at Stadium Australia, Sydney
Cheering England supporters rode through Sydney on a bus as they travelled to Stadium Australia to witness the Women’s World Cup final
England supporters are already on the beers in Sydney as anticipation builds ahead of today’s historic World Cup final
Fans arrive ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Final match between Spain and England at Stadium Australia on August 20
England fans are jubilant this morning as they travel to Sydney, Australia to watch England take on Spain
The excitement has reached fever pitch, with huge queues having formed outside the fan zone in the shadow of Wembley Stadium two hours before kick off.
Hundreds of supporters – mostly women and young girls – waited patiently outside Wembley Boxpark where they will watch the match on a giant screen.
Wearing England shirts and with the Union flags painted on their faces they were looking forward to the which final in Sydney which is expected to be watched by millions of fans at home.
One woman summed up the confidence of the fans by wearing a T shirt with the slogan ‘Football’s Coming Home’. Others draped themselves in flags.
Fans are predicting a 2-1 victory for England.
‘This means so much to me and to all women,’ said 29-year-old Hollie Wheeler. ‘The Lionesses have done so much and become role models to people. I used to play football when no one really bothered about women’s football, but they have put the women’s game on the map.’
The party atmosphere is well underway at the Boxpark fan zone in Croydon with these supporters getting in the drinks before kick-off
Hundreds of fans have packed into the Boxpark fan zone ahead of the Women’s World Cup final
Many fans at Boxpark were sporting England kit – with these supporters even wearing patriotic cowboy hats
And this young England fan was all set to cheer on the Lionesses at the fan zone in Croydon
Among those watching the match at Wembley were seven members of the original Lionesses – the England team who played in the UK’s first ever women’s international match.
The women wore T-shirts with the slogan ‘1972 Lionesses – Yes, we were the first’.
Seven of the original team were at the Wembley Boxpark where they were lauded and cheered by fans.
Now grey haired and in their 60s, the women were part of the historic first women’s international played in the UK when they took on Scotland in November 1972. England won the match 3-2.
Pat Davies,68, who played centre forward in the match, said: ‘It is just unbelievable to be here.
‘I never thought that one day I would be watching the England women’s team in a World Cup final. It is amazing and I just hope that they can lift the trophy. It would mean so much.’
Davies, from Tenby, Wales, said the original members of the team had lost touch with other but got together last year when they were presented with medals on the 50th anniversary of the match.
‘Beyond proud’: These England fans at Boxpark fan zone in Croydon show their support for the Lionesses with patriotic shirts
Shouts and cheers of ‘it’s coming home’ could be heard from across the Boxpark Wembley on Sunday
There was a party atmosphere at the Boxpark fan zone near Wembley with hundreds packed in to watch the final
Young fans were able to get their faces painted ahead of the match between England and Spain
‘It is so wonderful to be here and to see so many fans cheering on the Lionesses.’
Mother-of-two Keara Smith had travelled from her home in Reading, Berkshire, with her sons Andre, 12, and Leon, 11, to watch the match and soak up the atmosphere inside the Boxpark venue.
‘This is the most important game of football since 1966,’ she said. ‘We got up very early to come here as we wanted to be part of the day.’
Another fan Rebecca Robinson, 25, said victory for the Lionesses will be a huge boost for the whole country.
‘If they win it will be such a boost for England. Everyone will be in such a good mood, and it will bring everyone in the country together.’
Fiona Frazer brought her five-year-old daughter Aria to the Boxpark and was among the first in the queue.
She said: ‘We’ve been watching all the games on the TV, but this is the special one. When we win, an it is when and not if, the whole country will celebrate.’
England fans are already queuing outside the fan zone near Wembley Stadium to watch the match
Spirits are high in London as fans and families gather to watch the historic Women’s World Cup final today
Hundreds of supporters – mostly women and young girls – waited patiently outside Wembley Boxpark where they will watch the match on a giant screen
Wembley’s Boxpark fan zone was transformed into a sea of red and white as hundreds of England supported descended upon it
‘It’s coming home’ – that’s the message from this family of England supporters outside London’s Boxpark fan zone today
Her daughter was even more confident, saying: ‘Football’s coming home.’
Many of those queuing were die hard England fans who support both the women and men’s team.
They are all hoping the result is more favourable than the last time they were at the Boxpark when the watched England lose in the World Cup semi-final to France last December.
It was heartbreaking when the men’s team lost,’ said Sally Langmead. I am really hoping the women can go one better and win the World Cup. It will mean so much, not just to women’s football but the whole country.’
Wembley is one of three Boxpark venues in London.
All 2,500 tickets sold out within eight minutes of the Lionesses beating Australia to book their place in the final.
‘It’s coming home!’: These England fans outside Sydney’s famed Opera House were confident the Lionesses could beat Spain in the Women’s World Cup final today
The party atmosphere was in full swing on this boat in Sydney harbour as fans celebrated
Jubilant supporters in Sydney are packing out pubs in Sydney ahead of the clash
England fans were in high spirits on this boat in Sydney, Australia
An army of 6,000 England fans are expected to watch the Lionesses take on Spain in the Women’s World Cup final on Sunday in Sydney (pictured are fans on their way to the stadium)
The England squad has already set off from its hotel as the final countdown before their historic World Cup final begins.
The players were seen stepping out of the Intercontinental in Sydney in their light blue tracksuits ahead of this morning’s clash with Spain – England’s first World Cup final since 1966.
Supporters young and old gathered outside the hotel and cheered as their heroes boarded a maroon-coloured bus, branded with ‘The Final’ in gold lettering, to take them to Stadium Australia.
A huge 30 million pints are expected to be downed over the next 24 hours as England fans celebrate the finals today.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will even be in a pub in his constituency of Richmond, Yorkshire, to cheer on the Lionesses with fellow punters – although won’t be drinking booze.
In a dramatic rallying cry ahead of today’s clash against Spain in Sydney, King Charles declared: ‘Good luck today Lionesses, and may you roar to victory!’ His stirring message on social media was signed Charles R.
With the country gripped with excitement, Football Association president Prince William apologised for not travelling to Australia.
Both he and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have come under fire for opting to stay at home, while Queen Letizia of Spain and her 16-year-old daughter Infanta Sofia have jetted out to Sydney to cheer on the team.
Appearing in a video alongside his eight-year-old daughter Charlotte, Prince William said he was sorry he could not watch today’s match ‘in person’, but wanted to send ‘huge good luck’ to the Lionesses. Clutching an apparently well-used football in her lap, an excited Princess Charlotte added: ‘Good luck, Lionesses!’
King Charles last night urged the Lionesses to ‘roar to victory’ as the England women’s football team stood on the brink of history
King Charles said ‘Good luck today Lionesses, and may you roar to victory!’
Prince William has apologised for not attending the Women’s World Cup final to cheer on the Lionesses in video message with Charlotte
In an impassioned letter to ‘Sarina and all our Lionesses’ overnight, Mr Sunak heaped praise on the team for securing ‘a lasting legacy’ for women’s sport – and said he recognised the huge challenges some of them faced on their way to the top.
‘For many of you, the honour of putting on that England shirt was earned against the odds,’ Mr Sunak wrote. ‘It should never have been like that. At times, some of you were even stopped from playing. But you faced down outdated attitudes and fashioned your own opportunities to play.’
Mr Sunak, who will watch the match in a pub in his North Yorkshire constituency, said the Lionesses had made his daughters Krishna, 12, and Anoushka, 10, connect with the game.
‘For my daughters, and for every girl in this country, you have made football something for them; you have made them feel they belong on the pitch. So – in a way – you’ve already brought football home.’
Mr Sunak, who will watch the match in a pub in his North Yorkshire constituency, said the Lionesses had made his daughters Krishna, 12, and Anoushka, ten, connect with the game
England’s Lionesses booked their place in the World Cup final against Spain with a famous victory over Australia on Wednesday
England celebrates after Alessia Russo scores the team’s third goal in the World Cup semi-final
England Lionesses train on the pitch ahead of their final match on Sunday
Supporters are hoping the Lionesses will be able to pull off an historic victory, becoming the first national side to lift the World Cup since the men’s squad in 1966 (pictured)
It came amid a growing clamour for the team and manager to be honoured with royal gongs, as Bobby Moore’s widow urged the England team to summon the spirit of 1966 and win the trophy just like the men did.
Tory MP for Mid-Derbyshire Pauline Latham said: ‘They should all be honoured — win or lose. They absolutely deserve it.’
Fellow Tory MP Kevin Foster added: ‘The Lionesses have inspired the whole nation and done us all proud. Well-earned gongs should be swiftly awarded.’
And Labour MP Chris Evans said: ‘Bobby Moore died without a gong because it took them so long to honour the 1966 side. Let’s not make the same mistake.
‘Win or lose, let’s recognise the incredible achievement of the Lionesses getting this far.’
The Lionesses reached the final at the 83,500-seat Stadium Australia with a resounding 3-1 victory against Australia in Wednesday’s semi-final. Up to 15 million are expected to tune into the BBC One or ITV coverage of today’s match, which kicks off at 11am.
It is thought the final will boost the UK economy by £185 million. Demand has jumped at supermarkets, with Waitrose stocking more breakfast items and English sparkling wine for the game, and Aldi expecting sales of crisps, burgers and prosecco to be significantly higher than usual.
Online fashion giant Boohoo revealed that searches for ‘Lionesses kit’ exploded by 3,981 per cent in the hours following the semi-final victory.
The King’s motivational message is a break with centuries of tradition.
When Queen Elizabeth wished the England men’s team good luck for the final of the Euro championships in 2021, she sent an official letter addressed to the team’s manager Gareth Southgate.
Lioness Rachel Daly celebrates after the end of the team’s semi-final match this week
Ella Toone celebrates after scoring England’s opening goal in the World Cup semi-final on Wednesday
In a video posted online last night, Southgate told the Lionesses: ‘You are doing a brilliant job. There is of course no advice because you have done more than us already and you know what is needed to win.’
Charles III’s good-luck message to the women’s team was posted online at 9.30pm to coincide with dawn in Australia and appeared alongside a majestic picture of a lioness and the Royal crest. A Buckingham Palace source said: ‘Both Their Majesties will be following events with the greatest interest.’ Prince William and his family are expected to watch the final at Anmer Hall.
England men’s captain Harry Kane also urged the Lionesses to ‘bring home the trophy’.
‘It’s been an amazing journey so far and you should be really proud of yourselves,’ he wrote on Instagram. ‘We’re all behind you, we’re all supporting you and we know you can do it. So go and get that World Cup win and bring that trophy home.’
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also sent a letter cheering on the Lionesses and recalled the impact that seeing them in action last year had on his daughter: ‘Last summer, when I took my daughter to watch your Euros semi-final game, she was immediately absorbed. Seeing how much you have inspired her has filled me with pride.’
In their final press conference before the match, Wiegman and England captain Millie Bright urged England to play the game of their lives. ‘We have felt the support, we have felt the support here, but also from the other side of the world in the UK,’ Wiegman said. ‘That’s something that you dream of.’