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Published 29 July 2022 5 min read
England Women's Senior Team

England's EURO diary: Keira Walsh

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Keira Walsh

England midfielder provides behind-the-scenes access to the Lionesses' preparations for the EUROs Final with Germany

Obviously, we were buzzing after the game and there were a lot of celebrations in the changing room. But once we got back to the hotel, we had post-match food and they put a few songs on and we had a bit of a dance but then we were straight back to work the next day.

Sarina is level-headed and so are the rest of the squad. We knew we had an important game coming up and had to be ready to get back to work.

Wednesday morning, we got up, had some breakfast and then were pretty much back on the road and travelled back to The Lensbury Resort, where we have been based for the whole tournament.

Everyone was then pretty tired from the day before, as a lot of the girls don’t sleep much after a game because of things like the adrenaline from winning, the caffeine supplements for the games and stuff like that. So it was a pretty relaxed afternoon when we got back to The Lensbury.

England's players celebrating in the changing room on Tuesday night
England's players celebrating in the changing room on Tuesday night

Most people then had a coffee from our little coffee shed at the Lensbury and a few people went for a nap. There was some recovery work for the players who played, things like an ice bath or cryotherapy, and the girls who didn’t play had training. The standard of the training looked unbelievable, and they put in a lot of effort. That shows the togetherness of this team because everyone is willing to work so hard for each other.

In the evening we all sat down and watched the other semi-final while we had our dinner, and we were trying to guess who would go through. It was a good game to watch, they are both great teams, but I thought Germany probably deserved to go through because they were the better team on the night. We are looking forward to playing them on Sunday.

On Thursday, we had the day off. In the morning we were wearing our leisure wear and it was all just a bit more relaxed. Then in the afternoon we went on a boat down the River Thames and back up as a team. Leah was the DJ and played some old classics, so it was a nice day. It was needed after all the excitement after the game and ahead of the lead-up to this game. It was nice to switch off and then come back together as a team, in a much more chilled out and relaxed way before training on Friday.

The majority of the staff were involved as well. Some of them obviously still had work to do and had to miss out but it is nice that we could all come together.

Friday was a typical match day minus two. Throughout the tournament, we have kept our processes the same and that is important leading up to the Final. We don’t want to do anything differently because it is a bigger game. That is really important for the team.

We did some homework on Germany, work through that, and then we went out on the pitch and put it into practice. The session was at a really good tempo and everyone was working hard, which is obviously important, so Friday was the day where we got our boots back on and went back to work fully.

Some of us had media work in the afternoon and then it was a case of rest. Everyone was either chilling outside with a coffee or they were in their room resting. It is a really important part of our schedule because it gives you time to switch off. Sometimes there is the option to go into cryotherapy after dinner so some of the girls did that, just to make sure there is that little bit more recovery.

When we have finished training, Sarina and the technical staff are really relaxed and as soon as we have come off the pitch, it is about getting off your feet and switching off mentally and physically.

Saturday, match day minus one, is a confidence session, where we do a lot of shooting practice, rondos, and getting touches on the ball. It is probably the most fun session of the week to be fair. It is the one the girls absolutely love. It is competitive, as we play small-sided games and it is good to get loads of touches on the ball before the game.

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After training, we will get the coach to Spurs Lodge together. Somebody usually does a press conference the day before a game, so they usually go separately with Sarina. We will have our coffee on the coach and we will go to the hotel or sometimes we go straight to the stadium to do a bit of familiarisation, going around the changing room and the pitch, before going back to the hotel for our dinner, to make sure we are carb-loading before the game.

On a match day, all of our games so far have been 8pm kick offs and I normally wake up pretty late to be fair, something like 10.30am. We then go to do our medical check-in, making sure everything is ok and then we get our breakfast

We normally go for a team walk, which includes getting a coffee, and involves all staff and players. We come back together before the game and have our little conversations, which is nice.

We have lunch, a bit more time to rest – I usually have another nap – and then we have pre-match food. I usually have loads of carbs. My pre-match is very basic, where I have a bagel with butter and jam and some plain pasta. Nothing exciting at all but it gets the job done.

Keira Walsh and her England team-mates have been having ice baths and cryotherapy treatment in-between games
Keira Walsh and her England team-mates have been having ice baths and cryotherapy treatment in-between games

Then we travel to the game on the coach and we try to arrive around an hour and 45 minutes before kick-off. You need time to warm up and get prepped, but we don’t spend too long in the changing room before. Some of the girls go out on the pitch, some are seeing the physio and I normally try to get changed quickly and then sit there and chill to take everything in. We don’t tend to spend too long in the changing room before going out for the warm-up before the game.

Emotion-wise, I’m feeling fairly relaxed ahead of the Final. Obviously, there are going to be some nerves but you are kind of nervous and not nervous, where it tends to dip in and out. But we are pretty relaxed. That is the atmosphere we have in the group. 

The main thing for me is we are excited. We have worked so hard to get to this point and we are not going to change anything we do in preparation because we have been playing really well.

It is just the feeling of excitement to see where this team can go and hopefully we can make the nation proud.

I just want all the girls to enjoy the game. It is the last one, it is the Final, we are on home soil, so we want to enjoy the game and get a good result.

Sarina gives everyone confidence, that is the main thing. That is the base for everything we do. Everyone feels confident and everyone feels valued. 
After the game, we celebrate but she never lets us get too high emotionally and it is important to maintain level balance. 

Before the game, everything is very logical, we keep the processes the same and we approach every game the same. There is no more emotion building in the lead-up to the Final because we are experiencing the same match day minus two, match day minus one and everything else. It is all the same. We are all used to it and I think all those processes help us to focus and we know our routine. 

I just think Sarina and our assistant Arjan are both very relaxed and very logical and focused. It then spreads around the camp and it is a nice atmosphere to be in.

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