Women’s Euro 2022: Rio Ferdinand on why the tournament will make history

The Manchester United legend says the opening game at Old Trafford will be ‘huge’.

<p>Ferdinand was a rock in the United defence. Credit: Getty.</p>

Ferdinand was a rock in the United defence. Credit: Getty.

Rio Ferdinand reckons the ‘history-making’ Women’s Euro 2022 will shatter new ground for English football. And the former Manchester United skipper admits watching the tournament unfold will fire his knowledge of the women’s game to the next level. Ferdinand racked up 81 appearances for the Three Lions and is relishing the prospect of next year’s showpiece kicking off at Old Trafford – where he played for 12 years – on 6 July. Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses will raise the curtain for the tournament against Austria at the Theatre of Dreams on July 6 and Ferdinand, 42, said: “It’s going to be massive. “It’s set to be history-making for the sport, which will be unreal to be a part of and not something you’d want to miss. “I see myself as a football fan and am always looking to brush up on my women’s football knowledge. “It’s going to be a great way to get to know more about the teams and players.

Euro 2022 trophy. Credit: Getty.

“Seeing some of the biggest names playing in some of the biggest stadiums in the country, all here in England - on our doorstep - and broadcast on the BBC. It’s going to be huge. “I can still remember the buzz of playing in front of fans at Old Trafford – there’s absolutely no feeling like it, so it’s the perfect opening stage for the tournament. “I’ll be heading up there with the family – it’ll be such a great environment and amazing for the kids to see these incredible role models.”

England’s fixtures

England were drawn against Norway, Austria and Northern Ireland in Group A ahead of next year’s hotly-anticipated tournament. England slumped to a 3-0 semi-final defeat against the Netherlands at Women’s Euro 2017 as Vivianne Miedema, Danielle van de Donk and a Millie Bright own goal dumped the Lionesses out. An agonising last four defeat at the World Cup two years later followed as Ellen White’s goal was repelled by Christen Press and Alex Morgan.

Advertisement

But Wiegman’s side are entering red-hot form at the perfect time after Beth Mead and Ella Toone hit hat-tricks in the 4-0 defeat of Northern Ireland and the 10-0 thumping of Latvia in Riga. Next year’s Euro 2022 final is at Wembley on July 31 and expected to surpass the European record attendance for a women’s game – 80,203 – set at London 2012. And Ferdinand said: “They are absolutely flying at the minute. “I’m keeping fingers crossed for a huge day for the team at the Wembley final. “It’s the ultimate stage for us as footballers, and for them to make history. Can you imagine? “I can’t wait to witness Wembley Stadium for the final – its due to be the biggest European crowd for a women’s football match ever, so what a moment for the women’s game that will leave such a massive legacy. “It will inspire huge numbers to be part of it in the future, whether it’s playing or watching.”

The UEFA Women’s EURO England 2022 ticket ballot application window is now open and closes 16 November. For more information and to enter the public ballot for tickets, visit www.uefa.com/womenseuro/ticketing