On a day when many claimed football finally came home, former Nottingham Forest star Darren Ward tasted success as the Lionesses won the UEFA Women’s European Championship.
In dramatic fashion, Sarina Wiegman’s team defeated Germany. Ella Toone gave England the lead on 62 minutes but Lina Magull equalised 17 minutes later.
With the game heading for penalties, England struck. After a scramble in the penalty area, Chloe Kelly found herself perfectly poised to send Wembley Stadium into pandemonium.
For the women’s game in the UK, this is just the beginning. In 2018, several clubs opted against bidding to host matches at their stadium and given how successful the tournament has proved, they now look foolish.
Ward is the trusted goalkeeping coach of Wiegman. He was appointed when the Dutch coach was appointed by the Three Lions to replace Phil Neville in 2021.
The former Sheffield United coach has earned praise from a current Forest player. Dean Henderson called Ward the best goalkeeping coach he’d ever worked with after forming a strong relationship at Bramall Lane.
Ward, born in Worksop, began his career at Mansfield Town before switching across Nottinghamshire to Notts County. At Meadow Lane, he made 252 appearances before Forest came calling.
In 2001, Ward moved across Trent Bridge to sign for Forest. He was added to the ranks by Paul Hart and would play 123 times for the Reds before moving to Norwich City.
His coaching career is still in its infancy really. He was part of Chris Wilder’s team at Sheffield United and his work helped the Blades reach the Premier League and stay there for two years.
Lionesses claim famous win
This win by the Lionesses has to be just the start of women’s football taking off in this country. Now, the constant barriers need removing and the game must now be taken to the next level.
Things have to change at grassroots level. England haven’t won Euro 2022 because of that system, they’ve done it despite the current setup within the Football Association.
Ward taking the job with Wiegman’s team is intriguing. Many backed him for a top job at club level but few anticipated that he’d rock up with the women’s team.
Forest fans remember Ward fondly as a very steady goalkeeper. Now, he’s a European Championship winner and his stock continues to rise in the professional game.