England Women and Men’s managers – Sarina Wiegman and Gareth Southgate have paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II following her death aged 96.
Both managers decided to issue separate statements through England’s social media accounts just under 23 hours after news broke of Queen Elizabeth II’s death.
Having only arrived in England 12 months ago to replace interim manager – Hege Riise, Wiegman has guided England Lionesses to 2022 UEFA Women’s Euro title on home soil plus qualification for 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup without conceding in the latter qualifying camapign.
The Dutch-born manager therefore felt moved with “great sadness” to pay tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, as she iterated that she simply “just wanted to join the many millions of people across the world to celebrate her life and mourn her passing.”
Wiegman proceeded to reflect on her home country’s respect for the Queen and how she realised just how special the Monarch was around the world, as she said: “My homeland has always had a great deal of respect, admiration and love for her and I know that is a feeling not unique to the Netherlands but across the entire world.
“Developing my connection with England strengthened my bond to Her Majesty. I could feel the love the public felt for her, a mother figure for people to seek stability and peace from in uncertain times.”
Wiegman also acknowledged how much the national anthem meant to the nation through how the England squad and staff belted God Saves the Queen out during pre-matches, as she described their singing as a reminder of the Queen’s importance to British society.
Following the Lionesses’ success this summer, the Queen wrote to Wiegman and players to convey her congratulations, during which she described Wiegman and her players as an ‘inspiration for girls and women’ across football.
Wiegman though felt that it was the Queen who was their inspiration as she commented: “It is you, your Majesty, who was the inspiration with your unrelenting work ethic, leadership, dignity and kindness.”
Wiegman concluded her statement with the following line: “My thoughts are with the Royal Family and the whole of the United Kingdom as they come to terms with this tragic news.”
Southgate meanwhile focused on the Queen’s “remarkable” qualities as a leader who led a “lifetime of dignified service.”
Reflecting on her impact and legacy, Southgate went on to add: “She showed the world what it is to be British. Her values, her dignity, her resilience were an exemplar to us all and she has provided us with stability and reassurance in the best and also most difficult of times.
“I was proud to have her as our patron and to sing God Save The Queen before every match.”
The FA have confirmed that tributes will be paid in England’s next home match albeit fittingly against the nation’s biggest foreign footballing enemy, Germany, on Monday 26 September at Wembley Stadium in their final 2022-23 UEFA Nations League fixture.
That prospect immediately made Southgate think of the 1966 FIFA World Cup Final where England won the title on home soil against West Germany (aka Germany now) in extra time – just like the Women’s team did this summer.
Concluding his tribute, Southgate commented: “As Wembley and the country falls silent, I will think of that and her 70 years of impeccable duty.”