Lionesses captain Leah Williamson urges government to capitalise on historic Euro 2022 win

  • ITV News Anglia sports correspondent Donovan Blake sits down with Leah Williamson

England captain Leah Williamson has warned that her Lionesses squad are not "just footballers, and never will be", as she vowed to keep up the pressure on the government for girls to be given more chances to play the sport in schools.

Williamson, along with the other 22 members of the history-making squad, signed an open letter to the Conservative Party leadership candidates Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, urging them to "create real change" in the wake of England winning the Women's Euros.

In the letter, the squad pointed out that only 63% of girls currently play football in school PE lessons.

In an interview with ITV News Anglia on Thursday, Williamson said that she and the rest of the squad had received "positive feedback" since they submitted the letter and added that it was their mission to make it "easier" for future generations to follow in their footsteps.

Leah Williamson chats to ITV News Anglia's Donovan Blake. Credit: ITV News Anglia

It comes after the Lionesses beat Germany 2-1 at a sold-out Wembley stadium on July 31 to become only the second England team to win a major tournament.

"A lot of people are actually really grateful for it," she said.

"I think people get that we aren't just footballers and we never will be," she said.

"We're trying to do things for the greater good. We're trying to be good role models, but also make it easier for the girls following us than we had it and the people before us had it.

"We know that it's the right place now, so it's just about the action that we take from here."

Williamson's own football journey started in Milton Keynes before she joined her current team Arsenal as a nine-year-old.

Back then, she could have hardly imagined that she would go on to become the first English captain since Bobby Moore to lift a major trophy, and she admitted that she still had not quite come to terms with what she and the rest of the team had achieved.

Leah Williamson lifts the Women's Euros trophy alongside her Lionesses teammates. Credit: PA

"Afterwards it felt like a little bit of a blur, and then, things have just come back to me and I get goosebumps every time I think about it to be honest," said Williamson.

"The girls have written themselves into history, and nobody can ever take that away from us now. But that was why we wanted to win - because once we'd won, nobody could ever take that away from us."

The challenge now is to ensure that the momentum from the tournament continues, and if ticket sales for the Lionesses' upcoming clash against World champions USA are anything to go by, the appetite for women's football has never been so strong.

Tickets for the game at Wembley in October sold out in less than a day - further proof that fans are falling in love with the women's game according to Williamson.

"There's always a worry that you finish a tournament and then it will drop off again or people won't be as interested," she said.

"I think we've got our answer, people still want to come. That gives me the most encouragement that what we've done has been worth it."

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