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Sarina Wiegman feels embracing the English culture was a crucial component behind her leading the Lionesses to a record-breaking year.
England enjoyed a remarkable 2022 under their Dutch coach, with European Championship success secured on home soil during a 12-month period where they remained unbeaten.
Bookending the major tournament triumph in the summer was Arnold Clark Cup glory in February and a memorable victory against World Cup holders the United States at Wembley in September.
The Hague-born Wiegman had only managed clubs in the Netherlands and supervised her own national team before she accepted the job from the Football Association.
In a week where debate over whether foreign managers should take charge of other countries has raged on in men’s football, the 53-year-old explained what helped her adaptation in England.
“When I got there, I tried to know more about your culture,” Wiegman said. “Although the countries are really close together, there are some differences in culture so I really tried to learn.
“I took some English classes in football. I said I will learn about your culture and try and adapt to your culture but the directness you have to know what is good, I will not go around it or change that.
“The other things I will try and adapt to the English culture. I think it went really well and we really enjoyed ourselves. We can still grow a lot. I think the FA and the players and staff enjoy it too and think we have a very good collaboration.”
Wiegman’s role as a foreign coach in charge of England has gained increased attention this week, with men’s boss Gareth Southgate admitting he will need time to consider his future following their World Cup quarter-final exit.
Discourse over whether any potential successor for Southgate should be from England has intensified in recent days and the former Netherlands boss conceded it took an openness from both herself and the FA before an agreement could be reached.
She added: “I needed some time to think and to feel. It stuck with me. Most of the time when some people reach out to me about if I am interested in a job, after a couple of days it would fade, ‘no I’m going to stay with the Netherlands’.
“But this one stuck with me. (I thought) this is very exciting, it’s a big country, England is a big football country, the WSL, the potential of the team, so I started to have conversations. Then it came to a stage where I thought, ‘if England want to appoint me, they need to know who I am’.
“They watched me on TV, I had some Fifa things and conversations with Kay Cossington (FA head of women’s technical) so we knew each other a little bit, but I really wanted to share who I really am, what my vision is, how I work with people, how I think of training and things like that.
There are some differences in culture so I really tried to learn. I took some English classes in football. I said I will learn about your culture and try and adapt to your culture.
“If the FA would’ve said, ‘hmm I don’t think you’re a fit with England’, then it would be fine. The other way around I asked the FA too about what they thought the future was, so they gave me information so I could figure out if I was a good fit for them.
“If you agree on a contract it’s really nice, but the best thing for everyone is when you know what you can expect from each other so you have to get to know that.
“Those conversations went really well so I got really enthusiastic, I noticed the FA got really enthusiastic and then we finally got to an appointment.”
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