There’s just one more sleep before England face Germany in the final of the Women’s European Championship.
And there couldn’t be a better person in charge of the Lionesses as they look to secure their first major international trophy than Sarina Wiegman, according to former Netherlands star Anouk Hoogendijk.
Hoogendijk, who has been watching the tournament closely, played 103 times for her country in addition to two spells at Ajax and a brief stint at Arsenal.
Fresh from a trip to the Lake District as part of her stay in the UK, Hoogendijk spoke to talkSPORT.com at the Heineken Greener Bar Women’s Euros 2022 event on Friday about her experience at the tournament so far.
The Dutch were eliminated by France in the quarter-finals and Hoogendijk has been keeping her eyes on compatriot Weigman.
The England boss retired from playing international football in 2001, but before she hung up her boots, Hoogendijk spent time with her in the Netherlands set up.
“I played with her as a player when I was really young and she was one of the experienced players,” Hoogendijk explained.
“I sometimes trained with her and the national team when I was playing in the Under-17s or Under-19s and I was always a bit afraid of her because she was one of the big names,” she laughed.
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“She was a great player, she was a midfielder and she was already a leader when she was a player and a real captain.
“I worked with her when she was an assistant coach so her role was a bit smaller, but you could see already that she was technically strong.
“It was more individually she told you what to do. She reads the game so well and I worked with her for a little bit when she was manager, but you can see she’s made for it, she’s perfect.”
Wiegman has had some important decisions to make during the Euros from her substitutions against Spain in the quarter-final to leaving former captain Steph Houghton out of her squad altogether.
But Hoogendijk says Wiegman’s decision making and transparency is what makes her such a good manager.
“The good thing about her is she’s really honest and straightforward, very down to earth. Sometimes it’s not nice what she’s telling you, and that other players are better than you, but you know what to expect.
“There’s no false hope, and that’s good in a team.
“For Steph Houghton it was not really nice to hear that [she was dropped], but it’s good Sarina told her early about everything, because if she didn’t pick her just before the tournament, it would’ve been harder.”
Hoogendijk will be watching her old teammate’s bid to lead the Lionesses to the European Championship trophy – the second of her managerial career after winning it with the Netherlands in 2017.
And, whilst she believes the Germans will be a good test for England, Hoogendijk thinks Wiegman will ultimately be able to drive the Lionesses to victory.
“I think both teams are really strong in every line and well-rounded, it’s going to be a great final,” she said.
“But I have a lot of faith in Sarina Wiegman. I think both teams are equal maybe Germany are a little bit stronger, but I think the game plan of Sarina and Arjan Veurink are the best, they’re tactically so strong.
“That’s what I missed in the Dutch team, there was no plan at all.
“It’ll be a great game, but in the end I think England will win.”
England vs Germany is live on talkSPORT on Sunday 31 July at 5pm. Hosted by Adrian Durham, there is commentary from Sam Matterface and former England striker Lianne Sanderson.
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