What ‘unbelievable’ Euro 2022 victory means for Leeds United Women as Rebekah Bass makes rousing plea to Whites fans

Leeds United Women full-back Rebekah Bass could hardly believe the scenes as England claimed their ‘massive’ Euro 2022 victory over Germany.

Tuesday, 2nd August 2022, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 2nd August 2022, 8:11 am

At Elland Road on Sunday, the self-professed ‘diehard’ Whites fan was among the supporters taking in the momentous final ahead of United’s pre-season friendly against Cagliari, and made herself hoarse as she celebrated the first major tournament win in the Lionesses’ history and the nation’s first silverware since 1966.

When Bobby Moore lifted the Jules Rimet Trophy, women were banned from playing football under an FA order which they only lifted in 1970, while the professionalisation of the sport’s top flight happened as recently as 2018.

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Owing in part to increased commercial backing and a significant broadcasting deal for the domestic leagues, women’s football has grown exponentially in the last couple of years - culminating in a record-breaking TV audience of over 17 million tuning in to witness Sarina Wiegman’s players triumph.

Bass, who played for Leeds as a youngster before returning to the club last summer, said the transformation of women’s football is hard to believe.

“Honestly, it's absolutely massive,” she told The YEP.

“I've played football for 24 years - growing up as a female footballer, never did I imagine it to be like this.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31: Ellen White and Jill Scott of England lift the trophy during the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 final match between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium on July 31, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

“It's nice to see so many men watching the game.

"We were sat in one of the boxes at the [Cagliari] game and looking down, there were so many people watching the game on their phones.

“As soon as England went 2-1 up, the whole stadium just erupted and they were all singing, 'it's coming home'.

“Five years ago, that would never have happened.

Leeds United Women defender Rebekah Bass on the ball during a Division One North clash with Durham Cestria.

“That's why my voice is gone - I've lost my voice.

"It's just unbelievable.

“It's such a pleasure to be here, to see how far women's football has come over the last couple of years, it's brilliant.”

Speaking in front of hundreds of jubilant fans in Trafalgar Square yesterday afternoon, the England players pinpointed their hopes for the aftermath of the captivating home tournament.

LEEDS, ENGLAND - JULY 31: Leeds United fans show their support for the England's women's team as the Women's Euro Final between England and Germany is shown on a big screen ahead of kick off during the Pre-Season friendly match between Leeds United v Cagliari at Elland Road on July 31, 2022 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Ashley Allen/Getty Images)

While captain Leah Williamson hopes to establish a ‘winning’ legacy for the side, England veteran Jill Scott remarked that her team had inspired a change in attitudes toward the sport and how it is perceived - and Bass, too, is delighted that women’s football is beginning to be taken more seriously.

“Looking on Twitter and social media and stuff, and people that you walk past on the street, it's like 'Oh God, yeah, the women are doing well, they could get there, they could bring football home’,” said Bass.

“It's nice to see that - people are seeing it as ‘England are going to bring football home’, not ‘just’ England women are bringing it home.”

Meanwhile, Leeds United Women are in the midst of their own period of transformation as this summer has seen a wholesale turnover in the managing staff.

Returning to the club to take up the role of head coach is Rick Passmoor, who led the Whites to a golden era featuring an FA Cup final and a League Cup trophy lift in the late noughties, when United were competing in the top flight.

Leeds were subsequently ‘hung out to dry’ by former owner Massimo Cellino, who cut ties between the club and the women’s side in 2014 before chairman Andrea Radrizzani reversed the move three years later.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31: Chloe Kelly of England celebrates scoring the winning goal with team mates Lauren Hemp and Jill Scott during the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 final match between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium on July 31, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

United have spent recent seasons striving to recover from the damage of losing crucial backing while teams around them were building, though their efforts to earn promotion from the fourth tier have been frustrated consistently thus far.

Bass hopes that the euphoria of Euro 2022 will encourage Whites supporters to get along to Tadcaster Albion, where the Whites play their home games, to add backing for the team’s Division One North promotion bid and enjoy an entertaining afternoon of football.

“Women's football is not like it used to be - it's grown in the game,” Bass said.

“With a lot of teams playing more, the tempo's got quicker and the technicality of the game has got a lot better, so people enjoy watching it.

“I think for us, personally, as Leeds United Women, it's absolutely brilliant, taking that to the next step for us.

“Our season starts in two weeks and all we want is for people to come and watch us.

“If the men are playing away from home, or they play on Saturday and we're playing on the Sunday - we're only in Tadcaster, we're not too far away.

"If you want to come and get your football fix, come down and watch us.

“I'm not going to say we're close to the men by any stretch of the imagination, but we'll put the graft in for the shirt.

"We enjoy playing football and that's all it's about really.

“You just want to have fun with it.”

LEEDS, ENGLAND - JULY 31: Leeds United fans show their support for the England's women's team as the Women's Euro Final between England and Germany is shown on a big screen ahead of kick off during the Pre-Season friendly match between Leeds United v Cagliari at Elland Road on July 31, 2022 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Ashley Allen/Getty Images)