Lionesses hit the beach! England squad enjoy some very well-earned downtime in Australia after knocking host nation out of Women’s World Cup – ahead of final against Spain on Sunday
- England now prepare to face Spain in first World Cup final since the 1966 win
The Lionesses hit the beach today as they enjoyed a rare day off ahead of England’s first World Cup final since 1966.
Sarina Wiegman’s side beat arch rivals Australia 3-1 in Sydney on Wednesday to progress to their maiden final, where they will face Spain in an event due to be watched by millions up and down the country on Sunday.
Today, England’s heroes were seen taking advantage of some very well-earned downtime as they dressed in comfortable, baggy tracksuits and relaxed with their families.
Striker Rachel Daly was pictured holding an orange bat on the sand, while goalscorer Ella Toone enjoyed a sit down outside a cafe with boyfriend Joe Bunney.
Elsewhere, captain Millie Bright was seen outside a doughnut shop, goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck was out for a walk with her loved ones, and midfielder Jordan Nobbs was seen enjoying a hot drink while on a stroll.
England’s Rachel Daly is seen smiling and holding an orange bat while on a beach in Australia today
Ella Toone enjoys a sit down in a cafe with boyfriend Joe Bunney who led the celebrations long into the night
England captain Millie Bright (left) relaxes outside a doughnut shop following Wednesday’s historic win
Goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck enjoyed some downtime with her family by the water as the team looks forward to Sunday’s historic final
It comes as new footage of the players’ celebrations behind the scenes was released this morning.
The video shows Lauren Hemp, who scored England’s crucial second goal in the semi-final, being met with screams of delight from her teammates as she returns to the dressing room with her Player of the Match trophy.
She is then dragged into the middle of a circle of players, where she dances with midfielder Georgia Stanway to the sound of Marvin Gaye’s Motown classic, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.
Another pitch side video shows captain Millie Bright embracing England legend and Queen of the Jungle, Jill Scott, and telling her: ‘What did you say…England never give in!’
Previous pictures showed Hemp and Ella Toone, who opened the scoring yesterday, leading the jubilant scenes Down Under, as the Lionesses partied to Sweet Caroline – the Neil Diamond classic which has become something of a celebratory anthem in recent tournaments.
But the focus is clearly already on the weekend, as the players were pictured with cans of Fanta and Coke, rather than champagne.
Boss Wiegman appeared especially keen to keep a lid on celebrations, even telling defender Lucy Bronze to ‘stop jumping’ and to immediately begin preparations for Sunday’s historic final.
For the players’ families and other halves, however, the night was theirs to enjoy, and Toone’s boyfriend Joe Bunney – a footballer himself – led the celebrations.
He shared videos of England fans drinking and singing in an Australian bar, before revealing how he finally called it a night at 3.42am.
England’s Rachel Daly checks her phone as she relaxes on a beach ahead of Sunday’s final
England midfielder Jordan Nobbs enjoys a hot drink and a stroll in her tracksuit near the beach
Millie Bright departs a doughnut shop as she enjoys some downtime following England’s historic win over Australia
Goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck waits for her family in a car park as she enjoys a walk just outside Sydney
Millie Bright also appeared to be carrying an orange bat in her bag, similar to the one seen carried by teammate Rachel Daly
Jordan Nobbs dressed casually in a baggy cream tracksuit and held a hot drink as she enjoyed a stroll Down Under
It comes as it emerged today that the Lionesses’ battle for glory is expected to give a £185m boost to the UK economy as supporters flock to pubs and bars to watch.
Analysis by savings site VoucherCodes.co.uk found that 13.7 million viewers around the UK are set to tune into the match, with around a fifth heading to their local pub, bar or restaurant to soak up the atmosphere.
Viewers could spend around £138 million in supermarkets to stock up on food, drink, merchandise and decorations ahead of the 11am kick-off, according to the report which uses forecasts from GlobalData.
And total spending in hospitality venues could reach £47 million, the highest of the tournament, with the bulk of spending on drinks including teas and coffees as well as alcoholic beverages.
It would mean that consumers spend about a third more than was splashed out during the Women’s Euro final last summer.
Last year’s tournament provided a 5% boost to pints sales, with a 10% boost during the final with England versus Germany, according to the British Beer and Pub Association.
The total spend for the entire World Cup is estimated to reach up to £747 million, supporting hospitality venues and retailers across Britain, according to VoucherCodes’ research.
Emma McClarkin, the chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: ‘With the Lionesses roaring into the final this Sunday, pubs will be looking forward to welcoming fans to come together to cheer on England.
‘Pubs are the home of live sport, with the atmosphere and sense of togetherness unrivalled, and even when broadcast from the other side of the world, this tournament is no different.’
Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of trade body UKHospitality, said: ‘We’ve seen venues already make a huge effort for the Women’s World Cup and we expect that to go even further this Sunday, which will inevitably lead to a boost for hospitality businesses.
‘We all know the best way to watch sport is down the pub, so I’d encourage everyone to turn out in their droves this Sunday to support the Lionesses.’
The Lionesses celebrated reaching their maiden World Cup final, and England’s first in nearly 60 years, by dancing to Sweet Caroline – but there were only soft drinks in sight with one more step to go on the road to glory
The team’s official Twitter account posted three images from behind the scenes in Sydney, following an historic 3-1 win over old rivals, Australia
Mary Earps of England and teammates celebrate in the dressing room following victory
Boss Sarina Wiegman was clearly keen to keep a lid on celebrations, even telling defender Lucy Bronze to ‘stop jumping’ and to immediately begin preparations for Sunday’s showpiece final
However, calls for a celebratory bank holiday were quashed by the government yesterday, and Education Secretary Gillian Keegan also looked to swerve the question when asked this morning.
‘That is not my decision, obviously,’ she told Sky News.
‘But it is something that I think… the more important thing would be to get lots of girls playing football as a result of this so that we have future Lionesses always on tap.’
Ms Keegan was also asked the question on LBC but spoke only about the England women’s team having previously lobbied for more equal access to sport for girls of school age.
Asked whether it was ‘a bit of a disappointment’ that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would not be going to Australia to watch the final in person, the Cabinet minister replied: ‘Actually, I think the Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport (Lucy Frazer), I think she is on her way there now.’
It came as Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha said some of the Lionesses have said they started playing football after watching the movie.
She told the Today programme: ‘Today looking at all those headlines I feel very, very, very great to be honest with you, to now be part of this history and to know that so many women who play in the World Cup today started playing after watching the movie.
‘When the US women’s team won the last World Cup they went on record as saying, most of them said, they only started playing after watching the movie and some of the England players have said that too.
‘I think we just made you feel like anything was possible and that women playing football looked very cool and powerful. And that’s what I was trying to do with my movie was to show women with skills.
‘I think that what we ended up doing was inspiring a whole generation today who didn’t know what it was like pre the idea of a woman picking up a football and being laughed at.’
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