The Orange Women will be at Wembley for the first time in history on Friday. The fact that the Nations League match with England will be played in the iconic stadium makes a lot of noise. Three Dutch players and the national coach look ahead. “It’s nice that I can still experience this.”
Vivianne Miedema: ‘Taken a matchbox with a piece of grass’
Vivianne Miedema was one of the few Dutch internationals to have played at Wembley once. Twice even. “I don’t want to talk about it,” she says sarcastically. It was not a great success. In both 2018 and 2021, she lost the FA Cup final with Arsenal in the iconic stadium. Still, she has warm memories of the place.
“You breathe football when you enter there. It is the football temple of England. My grandfather’s brother asked me at the time if I would like to take a piece of the grass with me in a matchbox, so that he could have a piece of Wembley at home. That says how big Wembley is. is.”
It will be somewhat new for the 27-year-old Miedema. At the FA Cup finals, the stadium was half full, while the count for Friday’s match is at least 70,000 spectators, a record for the Orange Women. “When it’s full, you feel very small on the field. It’s so gigantic.”
For Miedema it is also a special poster on a personal level. She will play against several Arsenal teammates, including her partner Beth Mead, who is with the England team for the first time since her cruciate ligament injury. When they said goodbye for the international break, Miedema was clear: “I said: ‘I hope you are very disappointed the next time I see you.'”
The most attended women’s football match at Wembley is the 2022 European Championship final between England and Germany. 87,192 spectators saw how Sarina Wiegman’s team won against the Germans after extra time. Photo: Getty Images
Esmee Brugts: ‘Make sure it’s quiet’
Does Esmee Brugts remember how many spectators there were at her international debut last year? “Probably not much, it was an away match in France,” she says laughing. There were only 1,182 fans at that debut match (Brazil-Netherlands: 1-1) in the Stade Michel-d’Ornano.
On Friday evening, twenty-year-old Brugts plays for at least seventy times as many spectators. And for the first time at Wembley. Even as a visitor, she has never been there. Yet the FC Barcelona attacker remains down-to-earth.
“It’s cool, so cool. In the beginning it’s very beautiful and great, but at a certain point you focus on the match and then you don’t notice how many people are there. Whether there are twenty thousand or seventy thousand doesn’t matter anymore. out.”
Since only a few hundred tickets have been sold to Orange fans, the stadium will mainly support the Netherlands. “If it’s full like that, it will give England a boost. We have to make sure we play well and that it becomes quiet there.”
Spectator record for the Dutch team at Wembley
The spectator record at a Dutch match will in any case be broken on Friday. At least 70,000 tickets have been sold for the match against England at Wembley.
The Orange record now stands at 57,900. This number of spectators was reached during the 2-0 World Cup final loss against the United States in 2019. The Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon was sold out at the time.
The most attended match of the Dutch team so far was the lost World Cup final against the United States. There were 57,900 spectators in the Parc Olympique Lyonnais. Photo: Getty Images
Andries Jonker: ‘All ingredients for an unforgettable evening’
When England and the Netherlands were drawn in the same group, national coaches Andries Jonker and Sarina Wiegman had a clear goal in mind. “We arrange De Kuip, your Wembley,” Jonker said at the time. De Kuip became De Galgenwaard, but the dream of Wembley will be realized on Friday.
“This is special for both players and staff members. There is magic around that stadium,” says 61-year-old Jonker now. “There is so much football history. And now we also have the ingredients for an evening that no one will forget: there is a big audience, a lot is at stake and we will meet the renowned Dutch duo Sarina Wiegman and Arjan Veurink (assistant coach, ed.).”
It will be the third time that Jonker enters the largest stadium in Great Britain. The first time he was as academy manager of Arsenal at the final of the Nike Cup for boys Under 14. “It was completely empty, only the parents were there. It was great for those kids and for us of course.”
The second visit was with an audience. Jonker sat as a spectator next to Sjaak Swart in the stands at the friendly match between England and the Netherlands in 2016. “I remember well that a week earlier Johan Cruijff had died. Vincent Janssen scored so we won 1-2.”
Yet it feels different this time, now that Jonker is going to Wembley for the first time as a coach. The Amsterdammer is not afraid that his team is impressed by the stadium and the atmosphere there. “The core of this team is very experienced. We have a number of players with more than a hundred international matches, who are not easily confused by the atmosphere.”
The Dutch team is preparing for the Nations League matches against England (Friday) and Belgium (Tuesday) in Zeist this week. Photo: ANP
Sherida Spitse: ‘Hopefully much more often’
With 225 international matches, Sherida Spitse is the record international of the Dutch national team. She has experienced almost everything as an international: she flew around the world, won the European Championship in her own country in 2017 and played a World Cup final two years later. Two big things are still missing from her rich international career: participating in the Olympic Games and playing at Wembley.
The first wish is being worked on, the second wish will be fulfilled on Friday. “That’s what you play football for. To play in front of so many people. The more people the better. We don’t even have such large stadiums in the Netherlands,” says Spitse. “It’s nice that I can still experience that. I’ve never been there, so that’s nice,” she says, beaming.
According to 33-year-old Spitse, this is a logical consequence of the development of women’s football. “Maybe this will become normal. I hope it will happen much more often. And everyone will see it, worldwide. I hope that this will lead to even more people connecting with women’s football.”
Nederland in Nations League
The Netherlands starts the Nations League match with England on Friday at 8.45 pm. The Dutch team has qualified for the final round and therefore has the prospect of an Olympic ticket in its own hands. The Dutch team is certain of a group win with victories over England and Belgium (Tuesday, 8:45 p.m.).
Standings group A
Netherlands 4-9 (+5) Belgium 4-7 (+1) England 4-6 (0) Scotland 4-1 (-6)