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The Human Side of Football: A Technical Director’s journey through Euro 2022’s biggest moments.

It’s the 80th minute at the Amex Stadium, England are down 1-0 to Spain and have ten minutes to claw their way back into the quarter final.

It’s unfamiliar territory for the Lionesses, who haven’t conceded in 482 minutes of play before Spain drew first blood in Brighton.

Esther Gonzalez was the scorer, and they have more possession, shots and chances created.

From a human perspective, what must’ve been going through Kay Cossington’s mind?

“What an earth am I going to say to the board when I get in?” she joked, “But, what went through my mind that night?” she repeated back, and she casts herself back to that nerve-wracking fixture.

“If we didn’t win that night, everybody would’ve thought that we had failed, even though it was against a really good Spanish team.

“One of our anchors is find a way, and that’s exactly what they did that night.

“We were patient and stuck to the game plan. You can plan and prepare for many things but sometimes sport just takes over.

“One of my colleagues said that all they remembered was myself jumping on her back, I became a fan at that point, it was magical.”

The pressure must’ve been untenable though?

“Sarina talks about pressure a lot actually, and I don’t think we felt it on the pitch.

“The only pressure that we feel is pressure that we put on ourselves. There is always added pressure when you’re playing in your home country – but we had to focus on making big situations appear small.”

When asked if they managed to focus on making the big occasions appear small in the final, she smirked: “I can honestly say that I think I know what it feels like to have a heart attack! I’ve never felt tightness in my chest like it.

“It’s not because I didn’t believe, but it’s because sports take over.

“When I look back, we had already won before that game kicked off. We had created a hysteria that we had never felt before.

“That day took me back to the days where I would sit there with a ball in the street, pretending to be Gascoigne, Waddle and Hoddle, don’t ask me why as I’m a West Ham fan!

“But never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that we would be at Wembley, with 80,000 beside us, watching us play against Germany in a European final.

“So, for me, as a little girl dreaming, to be the technical director on that day was overwhelming – we had won before the game had happened.

“I was in the lounge, and we never saw the crowds come in, as the coach goes underneath the stadium…

“Every hour, you check your phone and friends were sending pictures ‘This is what Wembley Way looks like, this is what Wembley Way looks like! You don’t get the full picture seeing it on a WhatsApp message.

“I remember, I wanted to go and see my kids just to tell them to enjoy it, and as I run out the lounge, I glance down Wembley Way and I froze: I just thought ‘what have we done here?’

“We completely changed the game. I got nervous about not winning, but then I remembered that we had won, because look at that.”

Chloe Kelly sealed the win that day, with the famous photo of her whipping her shirt off in celebration as she brought football home again.

“When Chloe scored, I just felt numb. I looked around thinking: ‘what is going on?’

“We can’t have won the Euros. We have actually done this! It genuinely felt like a dream.

“You look at pictures now and think 'we really did that!'

“We don’t have as much money as the men, we don’t have as much profile, as many coaches, players. We wanted to change that narrative.

“We are the same sport but a different game. This continuous drive, by constantly asking ourselves what we can do next. It was pure elation!

“At the party after we had won, a players dad came up to me as said ‘do you remember when you picked her for the U15 squad’, and now she’s won a European gold medal.

“It brings you back down to Earth. We have to be doing something right. We have great depth, our youth teams are getting stronger all the time, it’s just incredible.”


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