England’s Euro-winning coach Sarina Wiegman paid a moving tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II saying it was she who inspired as “a mother figure for people to seek stability and peace from”.
Football, unlike horseracing, the Queen’s favourite sport, along with rugby, cricket and golf has shut down completely this weekend as a mark of respect for the monarch who died on Thursday although it has not been universally welcomed.
The royal family is tied to football as Prince William, the Prince of Wales, is president of the Football Association (FA).
Wiegman said the Queen had taken the time to write a letter to her and the players after the Lionesses won the country’s first major tournament since the 1966 men’s World Cup in July — both times at Germany’s expense.
England’s men’s coach Gareth Southgate — who will bid to win the World Cup later this year in Qatar — said the Queen provided “stability and reassurance in the best and also most difficult of times.”
Wiegman — who guided her native Netherlands to the Euro trophy in 2017 — said the Queen had been an inspiration to all.
“This summer she (the Queen) took the time to write to me and my players congratulating us for our success,” said 52-year-old Wiegman.
“In that letter she called us an ‘inspiration for girls and women’.
“It is you, your Majesty, who was the inspiration with your unrelenting work ethic, leadership, dignity and kindness.
“The national anthem sung with such respect by my players and staff, served as a reminder of what she meant to the country.
“The words ‘send her victorious’ – a line written on our shirts, but was also in our hearts.
“My thoughts are with the Royal Family and the whole of the United Kingdom as they come to terms with this tragic news.”
Southgate fell agonisingly short of delivering the Euro trophy last year — his side losing to Italy on penalties — said the Queen had been a role model for many.
“In remembering and celebrating the life of Her Majesty The Queen, we are also acknowledging her remarkable leadership and lifetime of dignified service,” said Southgate.
“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.”
The Football Association has confirmed tributes will be paid during England’s Nations League fixture with Germany at Wembley on September 26.
This will include a period of silence before kick-off and the wearing of black armbands.
“The team will have the chance to pay our respects at our fixture with Germany later this month,” said Southgate.
“An occasion that will, of course, bring to mind the World Cup final in 1966 and the moment when Her Majesty handed the Jules Rimet (World Cup) trophy to Bobby Moore.
“As Wembley and the country falls silent, I will think of that and her 70 years of impeccable duty.”
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