If imitation is truly the sincerest form of flattery, then Sarina Wiegman’s suit certainly says it all.
The England head coach is just one win away from a second consecutive women’s EURO trophy after leading her native Netherlands to glory in 2017.
Britain has drawn exponential attention to the steely blue-eyed woman who led the Lionesses to Sunday’s Wembley showdown against Germany, even surpassing some of her own side to become one of the most recognizable faces at the tournament.
That fashion editors are now telling admirers where to buy their pitchside uniform, a £45 dark M&S blazer with matching trousers paired with a white button-down and Nike trainers says a lot about how quickly the 52-year-old in stock has risen since taking the helm last September.
The no-frills look, which has boosted sales of her signature blazer by 140 percent since last week, is a stark reflection of her wearer’s approach, who hasn’t changed her starting XI yet.
“She looks calm, she looks cool, I’ve heard players talk about how honest she is with them,” former lioness Kelly Smith, who has 117 caps for England, told the PA news agency.
“There is no BS that some managers can give you. She just says, “This is what you have to do. If you don’t, you may not play, I need to see this from you. It’s very to the point, and I don’t think players have ever had that before.
“And they like that it’s kind of simple, but they take it on board. They just seem so unified and united.”
The ‘Sarina suit’ wasn’t the first major fashion choice the former gym teacher has made over the course of her remarkable, record-breaking, and glass-ceiling-breaking career.
Before the trophies, the accolades and this weekend’s trip to the “home of football” came The Haircut.
When Wiegman first started playing in his hometown of The Hague, there were no girls’ teams, but mixed-gender teams were banned. Determined, the future winner of FIFA’s Best Women’s Coach title – the only woman to have held the title twice – cut her hair to better suit her twin brother and the boys.
“Sometimes when people saw I was a girl, they made trouble,” she wrote in The Coaches’ Voice.
“Other times we got nice reactions. But most of the time it was difficult to play.”
Wiegman’s breakthrough came at 16 when she was first selected for the Netherlands national team and traveled to China to take part in a proof-of-concept tournament for a future Women’s World Cup.
There she met US women’s national team coach Anson Dorrance, who also directed women’s development at the University of North Carolina. It didn’t take much to convince Wiegman, then frustrated by the Netherlands’ commitment to women’s football, to take her next steps in the United States.
She wrote: “In the Netherlands it felt like we were always fighting for our place. As if we hadn’t been accepted. I wanted more and knew it was better in the US.”
The unfamiliarity gave way to comfort, then confidence, as Wiegman realized there were others like her, pushing for more and better play she loved. It instilled a sense of recklessness in the young footballer – a description that Wiegman haunts to this day.
She later became the first centurion of the Netherlands women’s team, winning 104 caps alongside two national titles with Ter Leede before retiring in 2003 as she began to balance physical education classes with coaching.
The mother-of-two was recruited by ADO Den Haag in 2007 to manage the newly formed Eredivisie Vrouwen side, a position she only wanted to take on if it became full-time. Seven years later, she was back in the national team squad, this time as an assistant to head coach Roger Reijners.
She also continued her education during her pro license course and coached internally with men’s team Sparta Rotterdam, making Wiegman the first woman to coach at a Dutch men’s professional club.
Wiegman was made permanent in the Netherlands’ top spot in 2017, just six months before she would guide the hosts to home EURO victory – the sea of orange-clad fans who have clamored here this summer is testament to how far she has come The game had come and her part in it.
Some might suspect Wiegman comes across as stern and reserved. After all, she was the one who unsentimentally named Leah Williamson captain when the status of injured longtime skipper Steph Houghton was still unknown, giving England an important consistency in tournament structure.
But behind the crisp button-down is someone with a crooked smile and an understated sense of humor, a woman who recently burst into giggles when asked if she was a “running winner” and who always offered hugs after the final whistle looked more exuberant and generous.
Make no mistake about it: Wiegman will still be wearing the suit on Sunday, but in the event of a win she might get to add a little party hat.
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/sarina-wiegman-england-kelly-smith-lionesses-wembley-b2134158.html Sarina Wiegman: England’s “cool and calm” head coach with the straight look