FA must act now and help England bridge gap to Spain in women’s football | Kelly Simmons

World Cup winners also have ominously dominant youth sides, and catching them up cannot be done on a shoestring

As I stood in Stadium Australia in Sydney last August after the final whistle, pondering England’s World Cup final defeat, I couldn’t help but think that was our one chance to conquer the world and add that illustrious star to our shirt. “Don’t be too disheartened,” people told me, “there will be another chance in four years’ time”, and of course, in football, there is always another opportunity. The Lionesses have a world-class coach in Sarina Wiegman and an exciting blend of experience and youth. But as I watched Spain lift the trophy, I thought this was a side and elite system that could dominate world football for the next decade.

If youth success is an indicator of what’s to come, then Spain will be a global force for some time. Their vaunted set-up is producing some of the most technically gifted and skilful players in the world and this is translating into international success at youth level with Under-17 World Cup wins in 2018 and 2022 and Under-20 success in 2022. Many of the players involved haven’t broken into the senior team yet, which is a daunting thought for those other countries, including England, trying to catch up.

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