Sarina Wiegman on her grief at Euros, women coaching men and her future with the Lionesses

The coach told ITV News Sports Editor Steve Scott that she did not want to get into a discussion about whether she should earn the same amount as her male counterpart, Gareth Southgate

Words by Joe Wardropper, Sports Producer

Long before Sarina Wiegman had retained the European Championship trophy, or led the Lionesses to a World Cup final in Sydney, she was a newly appointed and largely unknown manager, eager to solve a cultural conundrum.

"[English] forms of politeness and etiquette," Wiegman writes in her new book, What It Takes, "were considerably different than those in the Netherlands".

Four years on, the 54-year-old coach has built a successful and simpatico relationship with her squad. So has she become more English, or her team more Dutch?

"I think a little bit of both," she laughs. "I understand better the ways of communicating, but I still ask the players to speak up, to give their opinion, to tell me what they feel."

Now, Wiegman is speaking up, despite her aversion to publicity.

"When you are writing a book, you are in the spotlight for that moment, so I just have to accept it," she told Steve Scott, ITV News’ sports editor.

Her success has intensified that spotlight. Last year, Wiegman’s unflashy touchline demeanour nevertheless delivered England a first major trophy since 1966.

'Women can coach men and men can coach women'

Invariably, observers wondered if she could do the same for the men’s side?

Debates over whether a female coach could lead a Premier League or national side, Wiegman writes, are "absurd". But what of her own aspirations?

"I really love working in the women’s game at the moment," she told ITV News. "Gareth Southgate is doing a great job… [But] women can coach men and men can coach women. That's the message I would like to share."

Wiegman is more ambivalent about whether her salary should match that of her male counterpart, who is reportedly paid 10 times more.

"I don’t want to get into that discussion… For me, it's important that I feel really treated well, really treated equally," she adds.

The Lionesses celebrate scoring their side's first goal of the game during the FIFA Women's World Cup semi-final. Credit: PA

"And I feel treated very equally. And I don't know what salaries are exactly."

And what of her side's uncharacteristic dip in form? Three loses in five games have lengthened England’s odds of Olympic qualification.

"Of course I'm worried, because we have to win two games," and hope group rivals Belgium lose, she says. "We know what we have to do, and we’re going to do everything to make it happen."

Wiegman speaks openly about having to 'park' her grief for her sister, who passed away just weeks before the Euros final last year

But it is the emotional toll wrought by events away from football which invite Wiegman’s most candid reflections.

Weeks before the Lionesses began last year’s Euros campaign, her beloved sister Diana died of ovarian cancer.

The victorious England coach was pictured kissing a bracelet in the minutes after their Wembley glory - a "meaningful gesture" to her "companion and best friend", she writes.

"She’s with me all the time, I think about her a lot," she adds.

For now, Wiegman is "grateful" for her tenure at England but, she says, there is more to do.

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