Ex-coaches urge Lionesses to take ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’

Their words come ahead of England’s crunch quarter-final match with Colombia.

Ex-coaches of the Lionesses have urged them to take their “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” ahead of England’s crunch World Cup quarter-final match.

The coaches at American universities which launched the careers of manager Sarina Wiegman and players Lucy Bronze, Alessia Russo, Rachel Daly and Lotte Wubben-Moy spoke of their admiration for their former players before Saturday’s game against Colombia.

Football fans across the country are expected to flock to pubs as early as 8am ahead of kick-off due to the time zone difference as the tournament is being hosted in Australia and New Zealand.

University of North Carolina (UNC) women’s head coach Anson Dorrance told the PA news agency he wanted his former player and Lionesses manager Wiegman to “win the damn thing”.

Dorrance, who also previously coached Bronze, Russo and Wubben-Moy, said: “They know I love all of them – that message doesn’t have to be sent, they know what we feel about them.

“They know we’re rooting for them.

“Alessia’s so good at sending us text messages making sure we can watch all of their games.

“This is one of the kindest, sweetest, most thoughtful kids.”

Dorrance, who has managed the UNC women’s team since 1979 and also coached the US women’s team for a lengthy period, continued: “Sarina, we always send a note into her congratulating her – and she’s probably too busy to even look at her text messages.

“So they know of our support for them, they know our love for them.

“We’re rooting for them now the US has been knocked out – we’d have been rooting for them anyway to at least get to the final, but now we’re rooting for them to go all the way.

“So they certainly know our huge admiration, but also affection for them so I hope that’s not lost on any of them.

“Go Sarina, go England, win the whole damn thing would you, please?”

Daly’s former coach at St John’s University in New York said the England star should “keep inspiring young female soccer players, male soccer players of all ages all over the world”.

Asked if he had a message for Daly ahead of the Colombia fixture, Ian Stone told PA: “Just that I’m very proud of not only the footballer but the woman that she has become.

“Now she’s fortunate enough to have that world stage where there’s just so many young aspiring female football players that are actually looking up to her.

“The number of people that have talked to me about how they love watching her play and how she’s wearing her heart on her sleeve, she’s ultra-competitive and all the other phenomenal aspects she has as a player.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity on that world stage, and everyone on that Lionesses squad is the same, but I’ve just had that personal interaction with Rachel.

“I’d tell her to keep doing what she’s doing and keep inspiring young female soccer players, male soccer players of all ages all over the world.

“We’re all very proud of her here.”

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, told PA the World Cup has already seen pubs opening early to let fans watch the games.

She said: “Already this tournament, pubs across the country have been opening early, providing special breakfast deals and much more to make sure that despite the time zone, this World Cup is one to remember.

“The pub is the best place to watch live sport and the Lionesses’ success in the tournament has provided a chance for pubs to show off their unrivalled sporting atmosphere, even at eight in the morning.

“Saturday’s quarter-final will certainly be no different as pubs nationwide will once again provide England fans the best possible service while they watch the game and a communal fan experience they couldn’t get anywhere else.

“Pubs have already helped create some magical moments in this tournament so far, and provided a fantastic venue to enjoy a fantastic tournament.

“So we certainly encourage everyone who can to keep that going by getting down to their local on Saturday, enjoying the atmosphere and cheering the Lionesses to victory.”

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