Women's Team

City duo hoping to create Lionesses history

City’s Kiera Walsh and Lauren Hemp know they could make history on Sunday evening.

England’s record-breaking Euros tournament concludes against German at a sold-out Wembley, with the prospect of bringing football ‘home’, tantalisingly close.

In the knockout stages, England faced two teams in Spain and Sweden who have posed tough threats.

Yet in both games, England adapted and overcame the opposition to continue their forward momentum.

Walsh and Hemp (pictured above, either side of Lucy Bronze) have started every game, and it is no surprise that the duo’s influence has been evident throughout.

Walsh spent much of her childhood in a field across from her Rochdale home being coached by her father and studying the great men’s sides of the 2000s.

She believes that hard work and research is now paying off in bucket loads.

“My dad definitely tried to get me to grow up being influenced by Spain and I don't know if he did or not!” she said.

“He is just a massive football fan. He always had games on, a lot of them featured Barcelona and La Liga.

“When City played, he'd say ‘look at how Silva and Toure play – look at their movement and how they check their shoulders’. How I see the game is how I was influenced by that really.”

Against Sweden, Walsh’s distinctive placidity in midfield dictated the tempo after a breathless opening half hour.

Her characteristic ability to create a cadence with pinpoint passes soon established a grasp on the game, from which England were able to go on and dominate.

“I don't really worry about being unsung, everyone in this team is valued the same whether we're scoring or not,” she explained, “I've been relishing it, the whole home Euros.”

At Bramall Lane, the livewire Hemp also shone, with Swedish fullbacks left languishing in 1v1 battles and foot races to space in behind. 

Hemp’s taken to the international stage with confidence, exemplifying to the thousands watching her brilliant ability on and off the ball.

She had put on a show against Spanish opposition earlier in the year in the Arnold Clark Cup, but she feels she's continually improved since then.

“I think I’ve developed massively, I think it's been under coaching from Sarina (Wiegman) and Arjen (Veurink), and obviously at City,” she said.

“I’ve learned a lot as a player over the last few months and it's only helped me grow.”

Consistently switching wings and confusing defenders throughout the tournament so far, Hemp has become a key member of the Lionesses side.

Sunday’s final will be a momentous occasion for women’s football in England, which has slipped into mainstream consciousness.

In a similar fashion to the men’s teams, the nation has latched onto the side in a tournament which has been surrounded by positivity and optimism.

The support reached the England camp, as messages of support flooded through.

Hemp spoke of the best wishes she received with a smile: “You hear from so many people just wishing you good luck and well done messages as well, so it's great to have that.

“Especially from people you might not necessarily hear from. For them to be watching it as well, you just know that the eyes of the nation are all watching you.

“It’s great for women’s football because it's only going to help grow the game when more people are watching it, and with packed out crowds, and I know there’s been so many TV viewers as well; it’s really good for women’s football.”

Walsh echoed the feel-good factor around the women’s game, and its ability to capture the nation’s heart for this summer, and hopefully years to come.

“If we can influence young boys and girls, that would be a great thing for us,” Walsh opines.

“You see how many fans are there. Not just young children but grown women who are getting back into playing football.

“The emphasis is on us, it's about making the fans proud and the country proud.

“That's a really special feeling, just as a human being, you can have that influence on someone.”

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