'We should be very proud'
Thursday, 03 June, 2010
Hope Powell gives England her support before the European Championship Final.
England National Coach Hope Powell says that the country should be proud of the Three Lions side that has reached their second successive UEFA European Championship Final.
A year ago England's U19s Women's team lifted the European crown after victory over Sweden in Belarus, so also go into the game this weekend looking to become the first England side in 26 years to retain a major title at any level.
The last team to do it was the men's Under-21s, European Champions in 1982 and 84, and Powell is hoping Mo Marley's young side can follow suit when they meet France at the National Arena in Skopje on Saturday afternoon.
"The girls have worked really hard," Powell told TheFA.com. "Watching the Semi-Final yesterday arguably they were the better team and deserved to win the game.
"It was a typical Dutch-style performance, they try to counter attack against teams but we would have expected that and Mo managed it very well," she said. "We had most of the play, a little bit untidy in the final third, but overall I think we deserve to be in where we are.
"It’s a great achievement when you consider the challenges they have had to face out there with injuries and the heat.
"They’ve had to make changes and fly players out to replace others who have got injured, it is testimony to Mo and the squad in Macedonia, that they have had to do that and still made the Final.
"We should all be very proud."
Powell, who watched the hard-fought semi-final penalty victory over Holland from her Wembley office, will be travelling out to Macedonia to support the team as they look to make history.
The game in Skopje will also be the U19s third appearance in a European Final since 2007, when a they were beaten 2-0 after extra time by Germany.
And Powell is quick to praise Everton coach Marley, who has led the team on all three occasions.
"Three Finals in three years, winning it last year and getting back to the Final again where they have the chance to retain their title is just fantastic.
"Mo has to take a lot of credit for that, and I’m really pleased for her, the staff and for the players, as well as what this can do for the women’s game."
Powell, who has been in charge of the England Women's set-up since 1998, believes the recent results at all levels of the women's game stem from the work that has gone in over the last decade.
Standards have been raised, so too have expectations, and she says England teams are now beginning to earn a reputation as one of the countries to beat.
"It’s not about one coach, one team, it has been a long-term strategy that is starting to bear fruit, certainly in the last couple of years.
"This says that the things we have been implementing are working, so it’s great all round. We must be doing something right.
"Usually we’ve been the underdogs and nobody expects us to do well, but that’s changing at all levels of the game. We are the holders of this title, but that does bring with it its own anxieties and the players have to learn to manage that."
She added: "Now we are expected to reach finals and do well, so the experience these players are getting will hopefully hold them in good stead for the future."