Sarina Wiegman: England manager 'had to pretend to be a boy' to play football as a child

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Fifa named Sarina Wiegman the coach of the Year in 2017.

Sarina Wiegman, England manager, says that she had to pretend to be a boy in order to play football in the Netherlands as a child.

Wiegman, 51 years old, won more than 100 caps for her nation as a player, before she moved into coaching and led the Netherlands to the 2017 women's Euros title.

She said, "When I began playing football as a six year-old girl, we weren't allowed. So I played illegally."

In Wiegman's debut match, the Lionesses defeated North Macedonia 8 to 0.

She spoke to BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast and said: "I had very short locks, looked a bit like a boy. My parents were OK, and I had a twin brother. So we started playing and everyone said it was OK.

It wasn't normal back then, but now it's normal. You can play football, no matter your gender, and that's great. Although it was impossible to play football before, I believe that is the evolution of the game.

Wiegman admitted that her true identity was "sometimes" close to being revealed but said it made her happy that "many things" have changed for girls and women in football.

She said, "I've been through this entire development and it's so nice that I'm aware of."

"Seeing little children having fun is what makes me happy.

"I hope that every child has a path, no matter how competitive or casual, so that everyone can play football at all levels and ages. It's something I am very interested in, but right now my main focus is on the senior women’s team.

After Friday's success, they take on Luxembourg in Tuesday's Women's World Cup qualifier. This will be the final camp under Wiegman who started her four-year tenure at England manager on September 1.