Former Lioness from first World Cup ‘doesn’t care who scores’ in final

Karen Farley scored two goals for England women at the 1995 World Cup in Sweden.

A former Lioness who played for England women in their first World Cup has said she “doesn’t care who scores” in Sunday’s final.

Karen Farley, 52, represented her country at the 1995 Fifa women’s World Cup in Sweden, reaching the quarter-finals before being knocked out by eventual runners-up Germany.

The former striker, who lives in Newmarket, Suffolk, started all four games at the tournament and scored twice in a 3-2 victory over Nigeria.

The 2023 side has reached the World Cup final for the first time after defeating co-hosts Australia 3-1 and will face Spain in the showpiece match in Sydney.

Farley said the growth and success of women’s football in England had been a long time coming “but it’s better late than never”, with the Lionesses also victorious in the European Championships last year.

She told the PA news agency: “I still stand back and look at it in disbelief.

“I’ll be the first one to admit that five years ago I’d turn the girls’ football on the TV and turn off after a little while, because it wasn’t as exciting as you wanted it to be.

“I think the investment the girls have been given now, the opportunities to go professional, train every day and be looked after, to be able to purely concentrate on their talent [has made the difference], and it has shown in how far we’ve come.”

Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo head into the final in sparkling form, having both scored in the quarter-final and semi-final games, but Farley said a goal from any position would do.

She said: “I actually think we’re going to have someone like [Lucy] Bronze, or [Millie] Bright for a corner.

“I don’t care who puts the ball in the back of the net – as long as one of us does! I think they’re all playing out of their skins.”

Farley said she would be watching the match with family and friends at home in her homemade sports bar in the garden.

She said she hoped coach Sarina Wiegman would stick with the same formation for the final and keep Ella Toone in the starting line-up.

There had been debate about personnel changes, with Lauren James set to return from suspension following her red card against Nigeria.

In a final rallying cry, Farley urged the team to forget about their opponent, play the game like it is their last and to “just enjoy it”.

She added: “The fact that we’ve made the final and the way that we’ve done it is just a huge thing to celebrate, and winning the game would be the icing on the cake.”

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