Women’s World Cup final: ‘England have to play game of our lives’ against Spain – Bright

England captain Millie Bright makes a heart gesture to the crowd

England have to “play the game of our lives” if they are to win the Women’s World Cup, says captain Millie Bright.

The European champions face Spain in Sunday’s final at Stadium Australia, with the game kicking off at 11:00 BST and being shown live on BBC One.

Both teams are in their first Women’s World Cup final, with England chasing a second major trophy in 13 months having won Euro 2022 on home soil last summer.

“It has been players’ dreams for years,” said Chelsea defender Bright.

“We have got a game plan that we have to go out and execute. Everyone knows how big this is. We know how passionate our nation is back home and how much they want us to win.

“But for us, there is a process. We need to play the game of our lives. It’s important our process remains the same. Mentality-wise everyone is super excited to get out there and put a show on.”

Bright, who was named captain for the tournament following injury to Arsenal’s Leah Williamson, said it will be an “honour” to become the first woman to lead England out in a World Cup final.

“It’s massive but it’s massive for the team. It’s ‘we’ before ‘me.’ It’s a huge privilege and honour. It will be the biggest moment in our careers. Nothing is individual,” said Bright.

“It’s a dream come true to be in the World Cup final. Leading the girls out is a special feeling.”

Asked what her younger self would have thought at the prospect, the 29-year-old added: “She would have probably said you were being silly, and it was never going to happen, but I guess dreams come true.

“We are finally getting a shot at the trophy, like we always wanted.”

‘It’s so much more than just playing football’

England players line-up before the victory over Australia

England’s success on a global stage has led to increased support, growing viewing figures and record attendances in the past year.

Manager Sarina Wiegman said it is “incredible what happens” when they do well at major tournaments.

“We have felt support here but also from the other side of the world in the UK. That is something that you dream of,” said Wiegman.

“We just hope we play our best game ever and that everyone who is watching in the stadium and in the UK also, can support us and enjoy it.

“It’s really exciting and of course we are really eager to win it. This shows how football unites. It brings people together. When you go so far in the tournament people get excited. It’s very special. It’s so much more than just playing football.”

Bright also reflected on how far the game has come and how the Lionesses have bounced back from a ban which started in 1921 and lasted almost 50 years where women were prevented from playing football in England.

“It shows our [mental] strength. We never want that to happen again. We have been very open about that and we wouldn’t let that happen again,” said Bright.

“To know we’re in a World Cup final is incredible. We don’t want to stop here and we’re always pushing for more.”

‘It was not our space’

Barcelona's Irene Parades celebrates following victory for Spain

Spain centre-back Irene Paredes said “it was not our space” in football for many years but they have the opportunity to showcase themselves in the World Cup final.

“Spain has always been a football loving country but it was not our space, or at least that’s how they made us feel,” added Paredes.

“We want to play football and [those who came before us] pushed so they invested more in women’s football.

“We have the opportunity to play in a final of a World Cup. It is the time to enjoy it and do what we’ve been doing up to now which is to play football.”

Manager Jorge Vilda, who dismissed questions regarding unrest within the Spain camp following a dispute among players and the nation’s football federation, is expecting a “tactical match” against England.

“It’s a final. We will fight with everything. I think it will be the match that everyone is waiting for,” he added.

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