“We want to show that the Euro was not a unique event”

Interview with Rachel Daly:

Interview with Rachel Daly: “We want to show that the euro was not unique” – Jamie Lorriman/Telegraph

Sunday July 31 caused such a range of emotions for Rachel Daly that she barely remembers collecting her then Duke of Cambridge medal on the Wembley turf, after she and her England team-mates euphoria beat Germany to win the European Championship.

Life has been a whirlwind of newfound fame since then, from glitzy award ceremonies to fans knocking on his car window. But now, just nine months away from the Women’s World Cup, she and the rest of the Lionesses are focused and determined to prove they are far from one-shot wonders.

“We want to show that this is not a one-time event. We want to continue the success,” the 30-year-old told Telegraph Sport in an exclusive interview, speaking two days after the draw for next summer’s tournament, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand. -Zealand. England are in Group D with China, champions of the Asian Cup, Denmark, finalists of Euro 2017, and Chile, Senegal or Haiti, who will play a play-off competition in February. Reacting to the draw, Daly said: “There are certainly no easy games in a World Cup. It’s a tough group. China are great, Denmark are great and they will be a tough group to pull off.

The Aston Villa star says she is not yet considering what it might be like to play the final in Sydney on August 20 as the national side do not want to get ahead of themselves. “I just don’t want to look that far ahead,” she said. “It’s about going day by day, step by step, and when that happens, we’ll be ready. The Euros was a dream come true and so special, but we had to park it almost straight away, as we went straight back to the World Cup qualifiers. We still have friendlies and big games to come, so yes, our sights are on the World Cup, but we continue to build on each side.

Interview with Rachel Daly:

Interview with Rachel Daly: “We want to show that the Euro was not a unique event” – Lynne Cameron/Getty Images

Inevitably, expectations for the Lionesses next summer will be high as fans aspire to the country’s first Women’s World Cup crown after back-to-back semi-final appearances. The tournament was dominated by the United States (four-time champions) and Germany (twice winners). As the Lionesses celebrated their Euro triumph in Trafalgar Square in front of thousands of fans, not yet 24 hours after lifting their first trophy, all eyes were already on the next target. Barcelona right-back Lucy Bronze, while hailing the Euro trophy as the best of her career so far, couldn’t resist, adding “there’s still one more we can put the spotlight on.” hand over next year,” to huge cheers from the gathered crowd.

Expectations will only have risen after the Lionesses’ 2-1 win over USA earlier this month. Megan Rapinoe and co are the reigning world champions and were England’s foes but were deservedly beaten at a packed Wembley. For all Daly’s understandable ‘one game at a time’ talk, confidence is clearly high and, as she admits, was a driving force behind their Euro triumph. “

It was definitely trust. It was in no way arrogance or anything like that. But we knew we had the conviction and the talent in the room that was good enough to go all the way,” says Daly. “As you could see, how exceptional all the players are in this group, and beyond – the girls who missed out too, anyone could have stepped in. And you have to look around the room and see what a talent you have and any day I would support this team and that belief is unlikely to waver before next summer’s tournament.

A whole new world

Whatever happens in Australia next year, the Lionesses – who are yet to suffer defeat since head coach Sarina Wiegman took charge last September – are already seeing their lives change rapidly. Daly speaks to Telegraph Sport on a busy afternoon as she prepares for the Pride of Britain awards, which saw the Lionesses honored with the ‘Inspiration’ award. A few hours after this interview, she was on stage to receive this award with five England teammates, hearing the congratulations of David Beckham, among others.

It’s an example of the type of glamorous event to which Euro winners are increasingly invited. And stepping into the hotel room where Daly is preparing for the night’s celebratory event offers a small glimpse into the new reality of his post-Euros life.

Dozens of potential outfits lie around the room waiting to be tried on, with a sea of ​​shoes of different colors lined up by the bed. A support team of six help Daly prepare for ITV coverage, including hair and makeup artists, two stylists, his agent and his business manager. Yet, while there are many discussions about what Daly should wear, all seem to wholeheartedly agree on one thing: Above all else, football should remain Daly’s No. 1 priority.

Interview with Rachel Daly:

Interview with Rachel Daly: “We want to show that the euro was not unique” – Jamie Lorriman/Telegraph

“I’m still very me, I’m still the same person.” And she breaks a smile, joking: “I can no longer go out looking like I just got out of bed! My only goal is football. Coming to these events is nice and being recognized for our accomplishments is nice, but it’s just about finding the right balance and I have a great team around me to help with that. If it ever got to a point where [my schedule] it was too much, they would take me away from it.

After starting all six of England’s Euros matches, including the final which was watched live by over 17 million people, Daly quickly had to acclimate to his new level of fame.

“We want to see a lot more girls actively involved in football”

“I went shopping in Leeds about two days [after the final] and I’ve met my brother and been stopped so many times, by people of all ages, people who probably wouldn’t have recognized me before. It was kind of a preview of what life would probably look like from there,” she recalls. “It was weird because we [had been] almost trapped in a bubble for a few months we were away for nine weeks with the same group of people we had no outside noise no sky sports news at the hotel we had no newspapers or saw the media, so we were kind of in our own bubble.

“I felt like normal life outside the bubble wasn’t as fun, for a while, because I made so many great memories with the girls and the staff, and then it was definitely You walk in like hardly anyone, kind of like being on Big Brother or Love Island or something, you walk in like just a footballer, and you walk out effectively a national treasure, so everyone starts recognizing you on the streets , walking out my front door, it was definitely different.

Interview with Rachel Daly:

Interview with Rachel Daly: “We want to show that the euro was not unique” – Yui Mok/PA

Nevertheless, fame and recognition for players representing their country is long overdue, Daly believes. “It was a long time coming, but the country recognizes the success of what we’ve done, and that’s still what we wanted to do – inspire,” she says. “Our main goal was to inspire the nation and be that person you dreamed of one day being when you were a kid.”

Another difference for Daly and co is that they now have a voice and that’s the one they already use. School PE is something she and her fellow Lionesses are passionate about and they wrote and co-signed a letter in August to Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, both challenging the Conservative leadership race at the time, calling on them to ensure that all girls in school have equal access to football in physical education classes.

“We want to see a lot more girls actively involved in football and sport in general, but there’s a lot of work to be done there, in PE in particular,” Daly said. “Girls need to be given the opportunity to be more involved in society, so hopefully we will see the lift in women’s and women’s sports grow – it’s going up, but we’re still a long way off. .”

What is already changing is the level of support for the Lionesses, and Daly thinks the way many people refer to them as ‘footballers’ rather than ‘women’s footballers’ is significant.

“That’s one of our goals, in tennis you’ll have men’s and women’s singles, but you’re still a ‘tennis player’, not a ‘women’s tennis player’ or a ‘men’s tennis player’. So why can’t we just be ‘footballers’? It’s ok, it’s just something we push for more.

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