Professional rugby league player Olly Ashall-Bott experienced the elation of England’s victory in the Euro 2022 final through his girlfriend Georgia Stanway, one of the triumphant Lionesses.
The Toulouse Olympique full-back got a “pass out” from his coach Sylvain Houles to attend Saturday’s final against Germany at Wembley and had the chance to join the after-match party before catching an early-morning flight back to France to prepare for Thursday’s Super League game at Hull KR.
“I’m just so glad that I got the chance to go see her,” Ashall-Bott, 24, who flew to London after his side’s match against Hull on Friday night, told the PA news agency.
“I hadn’t caught an England game before because our fixtures didn’t align – when I was playing, she was playing – but we had the weekend off and Sylvain let me go – I don’t think he could have said no.
“And what a game to go see! They got the job done in front of a full stadium, I was buzzing and so happy for her and the team.
“It sounds weird but it feels like I played in it myself. Because we’re so close, I think I got the same feeling as her – maybe not quite as much but I still feel like I won as well.
“And sharing moments like that with her is just incredible for me. There’s a video of me on TV giving her a hug at Wembley, memories like that you never forget.
“I got to go to the after-match party and see all the girls – I know most of them because I’ve been with Georgia for a long time.
“I’m not going to say too much because she’ll get big-headed but she knows how proud I am of her.”
Stanway, 23, who scored England’s match-winning goal in the quarter-final against Spain, will get the chance to return the favour when she watches her boyfriend in action at Craven Park on Thursday.
And the globe-trotting pair will meet up in Toulouse later this month when Stanway plays for her new club Bayern Munich in the AMOS French Cup, a competition that also includes Manchester United and will be staged at the Ernest Wallon Stadium which is also the home of Olympique.
“I like to think they’ve done it on purpose,” said Ashall-Bott, who plans to spend two months of the close season with his girlfriend in Germany following her departure from Manchester City.
Meanwhile, Ashall-Bott believes the Lionesses’ triumph can leave an indelible mark on world sport, once they have completed the celebrations.
“I don’t think they’ve stopped partying yet,” he said. “I said to her: ‘Enjoy these moments because they don’t come around often’.
“I just think it’s massive for every sport out there, all genders. A few years ago when I first got with Georgia, they were getting just over 1,000 people to a game.
“I’ve been fully behind it since I met Georgia and it’s crazy how big it’s got, for women in general, forget about football and sport, it’s massive for women.
“I don’t think you can compare men’s and women’s football any more, it’s just sport now.”
Stanway, who comes from Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, will move to Germany on Sunday to take up a two-year deal with Bayern Munich.
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.