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Euro 2021: England Women to open tournament at Old Trafford

England open their European Championship campaign in 500 days

England Women will open the 2021 European Championship on home soil at Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium on 7 July.

The announcement comes 500 days before the tournament next summer.

The 76,000-capacity stadium will be one of 10 venues used across the country, while Wembley will host the final.

“It will be amazing,” said England boss Phil Neville, who won six league titles, three FA Cups and a European Cup as a player for Manchester United.

Back-to-back Euro finals will be held at London’s Wembley Stadium – the women’s is taking place on 1 August 2021 after the final game of the men’s Euro 2020 on 12 July.

The BBC has exclusive rights to the tournament and there will be extensive coverage of every game across television, radio and online.

The match at Old Trafford has the potential to break the 41,301 attendance record in the competition, which came in Germany’s 1-0 victory over Norway in the 2013 final in Sweden.

“[The planning of the tournament] probably started five or six years ago and [what] we were looking at then was to get as many people as possible into smaller stadiums. Now we’re thinking Old Trafford for the first game of the Euros,” said Neville.

“I think we should all be proud of the work that’s being done. It is a brave and unbelievably correct decision by the FA to say ‘the game has gone so far so let’s take it to a bigger place’ and I think it will be one of those occasions you will remember for a long, long time in your career.”

Arsenal and England midfielder Jordan Nobbs added: “It’s incredible. The whole tournament is exciting for us. Every time we play at a big stadium, or at Wembley, it’s another amazing time for the women’s game and for us as players to look forward to.”

Venues to be used for the Women’s European Championships in 2021
Bramall Lane, Sheffield New York Stadium, Rotherham
Brentford Community Stadium, London Stadium MK, Milton Keynes
Brighton & Hove Community Stadium, Brighton St Mary’s Stadium, Southampton
Leigh Sports Village, Leigh Wembley Stadium, London
Manchester City Academy Stadium, Manchester Old Trafford, Manchester

Neville said he told most of his players the news on Saturday night and hopes it will encourage them to do “12 or 14 reps in the gym instead of 10” because “they know there is a big carrot there”.

The England boss added that he never truly realised the effect Old Trafford had on people until he visited the ground as an opponent during his eight-year career at Everton.

“It was just home. You went there, played football, then came home. My first game with Everton… you’re driving to the stadium and the coach is silent. You get there and all the players are looking up and you realise the effect Old Trafford has, the theatre and history of the club.

“We are going to have to handle that. If you want to play for England and be successful, these are the days and the types of occasions that you should be excited about, motivated for and dream about.”

Defender Abbie McManus is the only Manchester United player in the England squad and Neville thinks “it will be the best moment of her life”.

The Women’s European Championship officially kicks off in 500 days’ time

“What we have to do now is to expose our players to big occasions so when they come to Old Trafford it’s just like another occasion – it’s like going into your grandmother’s front room, having a cup of tea. That’s how it should be,” said Neville.

“When we announced we were going to Middlesbrough [for the 2-1 defeat to Brazil in October] I will never forget the North East girls in the squad saying ‘I have to go to that game, we have to stay in this hotel, there’s a Pizza Hut over the road!’

“There is a genuine excitement for them to get to a venue and Old Trafford will be one of those that they will be thinking now will be special.”

England finished fourth at the World Cup in France last year and reached the semi-finals of the European Championship in the Netherlands in 2017.

Article courtesy of BBC Sport
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