FIFA Women's World Cup
'We live in the moment': England not getting distracted from ultimate goal
FIFA Women's World Cup

'We live in the moment': England not getting distracted from ultimate goal

Updated Aug. 19, 2023 6:48 a.m. ET

SYDNEY, Australia – Millie Bright has been sleeping just fine, thank you.

That's what the England captain said on the eve of her team's first-ever appearance at a World Cup final when she was asked how she and her team have been mentally preparing to deal with the pressure of Sunday's showdown against Spain (coverage begins at 5 a.m. ET with kickoff at 6 a.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app).

"I've got a lovely big bed that's kept me nice and cozy," Bright said, causing the room full of reporters to laugh. "It's important that our process remains the same. Mentality-wise, everyone is just super excited to get out there and put a show on."

Neither England nor Spain have ever won, much less played, in a World Cup final. So no matter who wins, a new champion will be crowned and history will be made.


For the Lionesses, they have a chance to bring home a championship for the first time since the men's side won the World Cup in 1966 on home soil.

[Is it coming home? England looks to bring World Cup trophy back to birthplace of soccer]

The even-keeled Bright knows her nation's history and fully understands the place this squad will hold should it be able to pull off a victory over a fearless Spain team. But 24 hours or so before kickoff, she wasn't allowing herself to get too emotional about what it would all mean.

"I think, for us, we live in the moment," Bright said. "And yes, it's a World Cup final. But for us, our mentality is it's just another game. I think our preparations don't change no matter the stage in a tournament, and for me, that's key.

"Everyone knows how big this is. I think it's been players' dreams for years, so everyone already knows that. And we know how passionate our nation is back home and how much they'd want us to win. But for us, it's [about] process. We have a game-plan to execute and like [coach Sarina Wiegman] said, we have to play the game of our lives."

Spain vs. England Preview in the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup final

Spain's journey to this moment was filled with drama, but England had its own adversity. One of the biggest questions surrounding this team leading up to this summer was: How could it possibly win with so many playmakers out with injuries? Sure, England is the reigning European Champions, but it's a different team because of the key pieces unavailable for roster selection.

[Spain's journey to World Cup final has not been short on drama]

The Lionesses are missing star forward Fran Kirby, captain Leah Williamson and 2022 Ballon d'Or finalist Beth Mead – all three suffered serious knee injuries and recovery time didn't mesh with the start of the World Cup.

"It's difficult, it's football," Bright said. "As a player you understand that at any given time something could pop up and things can change. Football is never a given. And while we'd absolutely love everyone to be here, it's been a great opportunity for other people to come in and step up."

But those weren't the only bumps England traversed. Midfielder Keira Walsh had a scary moment in a 1-0 win over Denmark when she went down with an apparent injury. Postgame scans showed she had not suffered ACL damage, as many feared. She missed the final group stage match against China, but has been back in the lineup.

Rising star forward Lauren James has scored or assisted on six of England's 14 goals at this tournament, including the spectacular game-winning goal against Denmark. But she missed the last two matches – the quarterfinal and semifinal – after being sent off with a red card in the round of 16 win over Nigeria.

James returns just in time for the final, though it's still unclear if she will start.

Whether she comes off the bench, England has been more than up to the task of making adjustments – before the World Cup and during – which has strengthened the team and helped it reach its first final.

"I think we've shown how adaptable we are," Bright said. "But I think we're really blessed as a nation that we have such a big pool of players to choose from and so much talent. I think again that shows the growth in the game.

"But [it comes] down to the mentality and the culture that we have in England. And I think it's unbelievable."

Spain vs. England: The 'World Cup Live' crew previews the anticipated final

Laken Litman covers college football, college basketball and soccer for FOX Sports. She previously wrote for Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star. She is the author of "Strong Like a Woman," published in spring 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Follow her on Twitter @LakenLitman.


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