TWENTY years from now, this nation may well look back on Sunday and collectively say: ‘Thank you’.

‘Thank you’ to the England women’s footballers who represented their country in tough times, through major tournament heartbreak and a lack of support at home.

‘Thank you’ to the thousands of club players complicit in raising the profile of the women’s game.

‘Thank you’ to the countless fans who have made the Women’s Super League such a success.

‘Thank you’ to the schools and clubs that gave young girls a chance to realise their footballing dreams.

READ MORE: England Women win Euro 2022

Above all, ‘thank you’ to the Lionesses, whose astonishing, mesmeric and trailblazing 2-1 win over Germany sealed Euro 2022 glory on the hallowed Wembley turf.

England’s women managed to convert decades of hard work, undertaken by everyone connected with the women’s game, into England's first major tournament win for 56 years.

What is more exciting is the impact that win could potentially have on young girls watching on.

After all, they are surely the most important contingent of the mind-boggling 17 million audience in this country – and many millions more around the world.

Among those inspired by the Lionesses were the Weymouth Women football team, themselves basking in the glory of winning the Dorset Women’s League last season.

They are embarking on their own inspirational journey, having only reformed two seasons ago.

For Terras’ player-manager Tasha Sibley, the legacy of the Lionesses has already begun.

“It gives every female footballer hope that women’s football is heading in the right direction,” she told Echosport.

“They have been an inspiration and are fully deserving of wearing the Three Lions on their shirt.

“The buzz around women’s football, because of them, is infectious and hopefully it will continue to lift the women’s game in all aspects of life – sponsorship, advertisements, girls’ football being pushed in schools, clubs and starting the development of more girls’ football academies.

“It has also given female footballers pride in their ability to perform in the game that they love.

“It is important that we now all do our bit at a community level to support the continued growth and success of women’s football.”

Chloe Kelly scored the winner for England against Germany but there were so many more star performers.

Keira Walsh was deservedly player of the match for a world-class display, orchestrating England’s midfield.

Alessia Russo scored four times from the bench at the Euros, while Ella Toone bagged one of the greatest major tournament final goals ever.

Beth Mead top-scored in the tournament with six goals and is arguably the biggest star in England’s team.

And Sibley feels those young girls captivated by England’s success now have female, rather than male, role models to idolise.

“When I was younger, it was unheard of to go and watch women’s football,” she said.

“They’ve given younger players and women in general the platform to see how far they can take football and to have that inspiration.

“Growing up, as a female, it was males that were your role models. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but now to have female role models is brilliant – and it’s a first.

“I was fortunate when I was younger to go to America quite a bit.

“There were a lot of female advocates for football, females on billboards and in sports shops advertising football, but never over here.

“It would be really good to see that (in the UK) so we can start generating our own income within women’s football.

“We’ve had support from men’s teams, which is brilliant and has been needed. Now we can kind of branch off and start to make it our own game.”

Sibley added: “Women’s football’s always been compared to men’s football. Now we’ve won, what we didn’t like men doing was the comparison.

“It’s important for us not to now say: ‘Look what the women have achieved that the men couldn’t’.

“It’s important for us not to keep separating the two and make it one game.

“I’m not suggesting men and women need to play together but just seeing it as football, not men’s and women’s. Everybody supporting everybody because we love the game.”

It is near impossible to measure inspiration but Sibley hopes the Lionesses’ achievement will have a groundbreaking effect on generations to come.

“Just having that opportunity to witness women on that type of platform is incredible for them,” Sibley believes.

“Even the Lionesses were saying that some of the young players went into their first tournament and won.

“It goes to show for the older players to see they’ve worked hard to get there and now the younger players are doing it straight from the off.

“It gives the younger generation that hope and motivation that they can achieve it too. They can see that women’s football is just becoming the norm.”

While the Lionesses have created a tidal wave of positivity bursting through the women’s game, there is still a big battle to stamp out sexism.

Weymouth star striker Shakira Howard-Hachem said: “History has been made and this has inspired so many young girls and females to join or carry on playing football.

“It’s not easy for us ladies in sport having to deal with misogynistic comments constantly about women playing sport, but winning the Euros spoke for itself: Football is for all.”

Clubmate Becca de Havilland, who gets married this weekend, added: “I guess you could call this the metaphorical ‘Big Bang’ for the women’s game.

“In order to capitalise on this, we now need to carry this momentum forward and inject it directly into grassroots football to ensure women and girls from all backgrounds have equal access to footballing opportunities.

“Among the other incredible aspects of the legacy that this team has created, I’ve noticed that women and men are now brave enough to stick to their guns about enjoying the women’s game.

“Their feelings are now validated. Women and men are shooting down other men’s sexist comments and we are seeing a seismic shift in the attitude towards the game.

“Gabby Logan summed it up perfectly: ‘They think it’s all over…it’s only just begun.'”

Their teammate Beth Barnard-Irons was lucky enough to witness the Wembley win.

“The atmosphere was electric and the support for the girls was phenomenal,” she said.

“An historic day for football, watched far and wide by all generations. I hope the win positively impacts on the future of women in sport and inspires generations to come.

“The increased public awareness will hopefully pave the way for greater opportunities from grassroots through to professional and encourage further support.”

Weymouth forward Lily Beasley also highlighted Weymouth’s decision to have their women’s side playing at the Bob Lucas Stadium as timely progress.

“Having the Lionesses win the Euros was a huge beginning within women’s football. It was already huge but this is just the start of something massive,” she said.

“Weymouth FC have been happy to take the game further within the club, announcing this week that we will be playing every home game at the Bob Lucas Stadium, which is a huge step for Weymouth FC themselves.

“Great timing with it all and having more people investing within the women’s game it’ll only grow more and more.”

Weymouth captain Charlie Wilson feels “boundaries have been broken” by the Lionesses.

She said: “The success has and will continue to catapult the women’s game to incredible new levels.

“The exposure it’s been given this summer, meaning anyone and everyone has had access to it on free TV channels, means that no-one has missed out and the next generation is inspired.

“Boundaries have been broken. Points have been proven. Women can, girls can. England can, England did. They brought it home!”

Gratitude towards the Lionesses is clearly in abundance already.

Just imagine the thousands, if not millions, of girls and women able to say ‘thank you’ to them in the future.