Sir Geoff Hurst, Charlotte Edwards, Maggie Alphonsi and Liam Plunkett have all lifted international sporting honours with England

England are one win away from lifting a trophy at a major tournament. Victory will change the lives of the players forever as they experience a feeling unlike any other.

Sir Geoff Hurst, Charlotte Edwards, Maggie Alphonsi, Will Greenwood and Liam Plunkett tell Telegraph Sport what it really means to lift silverware for your country and how their lives changed afterwards.

Sir Geoff Hurst

Won the 1966 men’s football World Cup, scoring a hat-trick in the final

What are the keys to winning a major final?

There is no one thing – in 1966 we prepared for the final in exactly the same way we did for every other match – but it’s a gradual process over a period of years. For Sir Alf Ramsey it was a process over three years of collecting and honing and moving people out who don’t want to be part of it.

But on top of all that, of course, you do need an element of luck, which you can never prepare for. During this tournament there have been some striking examples of luck, one way or another. 

What does it feel like to lift a major trophy for England?

It’s not just the winning of it, which is fantastic at the time, and the celebrations which go on for some time, and the discussions around it and the press and the media but I think that longevity is the biggest thing. What happens a day or a week or a month afterwards, or a year, or your career, the memories are unbelievable. They just simply last forever.

What does winning a major international trophy do to your life?

If they win it, in 55 years’ time people will be coming up to Harry Maguire and Harry Kane and others, and telling them where they were when England won the trophy. Or they will be going into a coffee shop, like I did the other day, and a 23-year-old will come up to them and tell them that if they write down the England team they think will start the match, they will give them a cream tea for nothing. I wrote down what I thought would be the starting line-up, and put myself down as a substitute!

Every day I get sent letters and photos from all over the world from people wanting me to sign them. There are 10 England shirts hanging up in my living room right now waiting to be signed. That’s what their life will be like.

What qualities do you see in this England football side which has helped them be successful?

They’re a level-headed bunch of boys, there’s no egos amongst them. It’s a very good, exciting group of young players, there’s no question about that. 

They have team spirit, solidarity and camaraderie – you see it in the way the substitutes come out to celebrate with the goalscorers – and that is one of the most important things for a successful team. I’ve spoken to other former players over the years and without prompting they’ve said the same.

We’ve seen great teams in the past that have fallen out and had arguments and they get knocked out.

Charlotte Edwards

Captain of the team that won the 2009 women’s Cricket World Cup

What are the keys to winning a major final?

Well, I didn’t really sleep that night, or the night before. I remember going to sleep at 11 and waking up at about 12, thinking it was morning, which is never good. I was incredibly nervous, and just wanted the day to be there, to be honest, to get started. 

As much as it’s a cliche, you’ve just got to try and approach it as another game. Just focus on the cricket. Try to keep it as simple as possible; approach it ball-by-ball or minute-by-minute.

I actually found the semi-finals the hardest bit. So, the final became a little bit easier. You knew you were there and you knew you just had to play your best game of cricket. The final was just about piecing it all together. You just hope that you play as close to your best game as possible in the final, or that your big players stand up. The semis are a lot harder. Everyone wants to play the final, rather than be knocked out in the semi.

What does it feel like to lift a major trophy for England?

There was a lot of relief. It was always a goal of mine to win the World Cup. And to do it as a captain, to lift that trophy aloft, I don’t think there will be a better feeling that I’ve experienced in the game.  

There were a lot of emotions. For the people who have helped you along the way, and for all of your team-mates, there’s just so much emotion.

I remember just looking at the trophy and knowing that that’s something I’d always wanted to do. It’s the only time I’ve probably got really emotional. It was an outpouring of emotion because it means so much. It’s what you’ve always been driving for. It’s quite an amazing feeling, really.

Charlotte Edwards celebrates with her team-mates at Lord's

Credit: GETTY IMAGES

What does winning a major international trophy do to your life?

I wanted more of the same. I think, when you experience something like that you want to experience it again, and to experience success again. I think it makes you more hungry.

It does change your life. You’ll always be seen as a World Cup-winning captain, which is a special feeling. The win in 2009 without a doubt propelled the women’s game into a different world, too.

And you get to experience the stuff off the field that I never would have experienced, you know the little things I dreamed of as a kid too, like going on A Question of Sport. It does change your life. It was incredible; it gives me goosebumps thinking about it.

What qualities do you see in this England football side which has helped them be successful?

I see a togetherness from the group of players that seems to be infectious. The way they talk about each other, and also how they’re connected with the fans. And that’s something I don’t think other men’s football teams have done particularly well. They really get it, these lads. 

In the past, women’s teams have been more accessible to fans, and that’s something that fans really love. They engage with them too; the football boys do that really well. Whether it’s tweets from Harry Kane, or other ways, they really seem to find time to engage and be really personable, which really does go a long way.

They seem really together and, you know, you kind of really warm to them as a group. You want them to do really well so, yeah, I think that’s really their biggest strength – their togetherness and connection with the fans. They’re really natural, engaging role models.

Maggie Alphonsi

Won the 2014 women’s Rugby World Cup

What are the keys to winning a major final?

My whole experience of the World Cup final in 2014 was shaped by the fact that we had fallen at the last hurdle twice previously. Both in the 2006 and 2010 World Cup finals, which we lost to New Zealand, there were little things that I did not get right. In 2014, I nailed it.

You have to be aware of the team’s schedule, but you also have to know your own personal run-down as far as eating, sleeping and even something trivial like looking at messages of support from friends and family. On the day of a final, there is a lot of down-time. You do not want to over-exert yourself and you need to strike a balance between simply switching off and doing those last bits of preparation and analysis.

Our match against Canada in 2014 was scheduled for late afternoon in 2014, and I had a mid-morning nap on the day. We had some meetings, and the whole time I was wary of getting overexcited. Just before we left the hotel for the ground, I turned off my phone and imposed a blackout on myself to just get rid of any distractions.

Looking back, I liken the game itself to an academic exam. We had trained so well all week. We did not want to rely on last-minute cramming, because information is not properly retained that way. There were brief chats between players before kick-off but those were just reminders of what we needed to do.

Every player had every possible scenario mapped out and, in truth, the game took care of itself. It honestly felt like we were in control, as though I was looking in on what was happening from the outside with us one step ahead at all times. In 2006, we had been behind and had no control whatsoever. In 2010, we were better but still reacting to everything.

What does it feel like to lift a major trophy for England?

At the final whistle, one of my first reactions was to console opponents close to me because I knew what it was like to lose a final. Then there was a weird lull, almost like at a wedding between the service and the reception, as banners were brought onto the field. 

It was like an outer-body experience – and horrendous for the runners-up – but I remember taking that opportunity to get an England flag from someone in the crowd. I was also informed that I was up for a random drugs-test, so an anti-doping official was assigned to me.

I was first to go up, which was special because I was retiring, and Bill Beamount was there to give out the medals. He had given me two silvers in previous years and this time it was gold. To be honest, the pervading feeling was relief as Katy Daley-Mclean lifted the trophy. We were no longer the nearly team and I could lose the chip on my shoulder.

What does winning a major international trophy do to your life?

The 2010 World Cup had been televised, which had enhanced my profile thanks to my ‘Maggie the Machine’ nickname, but winning in 2014 brought another level of credibility – not just for me and the team but for women’s rugby as a whole. Names like Nolli Waterman, Emily Scarratt and Sarah Hunter also became better known. I think the achievement changed perceptions and provided a platform, which was underlined by us winning the BBC Sports Personality team of the year.

What qualities do you see in this England football side which has helped them be successful?

I think Gareth Southgate has treated his players as people and allowed every one of them to be themselves. In that respect, he reminds me of our coaches in 2014, Gary Street and Graham Smith. Southgate’s team has been fearless, playing without inhibition. 

We were like that in 2014, too. But we were older and I think we reached that point as a collective, not out of naivety but because of our previous failures. We were desperate not to be weighed down by history. At Euro 2020, I think England have disassociated themselves from their own history at major tournaments. Instead, they are writing their own – as we did.

Will Greenwood

Won the 2003 Rugby World Cup

What qualities do you see in this side which has helped them be successful?

They are selfless. From a team that has always been associated with selfishness, I now see a real selflessness about them. No individual is bigger than the team.

What does winning a major international trophy do to your life?

For me, the most important thing was it gave a skinny kid from Blackburn the self-belief to set my mind to anything and know I could give it a good go. It gave me the confidence to believe in myself, which is way more important than money.

What are the keys to winning a major final?

Don’t look at the scoreboard or the clock.

What does it feel like to lift a major trophy for England?

My favourite memory isn’t actually lifting the trophy. I know it’s about the fans and everyone who has got them there, but the best bit is shutting the door in the changing room and sharing it with your team-mates for 30 minutes. You have done it together.

Will Greenwood celebrates with Jonny Wilkinson

Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Liam Plunkett

Won the 2019 Cricket World Cup

What are the keys to winning a major final?

It’s just having your set routines and trying to calm the nerves the night before and obviously the morning of – try to do what you normally do, just enjoy your time with your team-mates, enjoy your time with your family. The night before the World Cup final, I was with my family – we went for a bite to eat, just tried to take it easy, really, just do what I normally did.

It’s hard to say because you don’t want to treat it like any other game because it’s a World Cup final, but I think you sort of need to approach it like that. You try and do the same thing.

Find a battle – get into the game and do what your job is. Your job is to turn up and get wickets or be consistent and bowl well, and that’s what you’re trying to do. You do your warm-up correct and when it comes to your role in the game, whether it’s in the field or bat or ball, you do what you’re being paid to do really and what you’ve been successful at previously. And that’s what I tried to do. Sometimes the nerves can get you but how quick can you settle your nerves and concentrate on your job?

What does it feel like to lift a major trophy for England?

It’s an amazing feeling. With England cricket it was a journey from the previous World Cup where they got beaten and knocked out the competition. And then obviously the rise, becoming No 1 in the world, and then winning the World Cup. 

It’s an amazing feat to become No 1 in the world but then going on to prove it and win in that World Cup final, it felt like a longer journey for us. It was emotional – without being over the top, we felt like we deserved it because of all the hard work and where we’d got to in the world.

England won the 2019 World Cup in a nail-biting final against New Zealand

Credit: GETTY IMAGES

What does winning a major international trophy do to your life?

You became a World Cup winner, something that not many people get to say. It puts you in a group of players, like a band of brothers. It’s something that will always be with you, something that you can cherish for the rest of your life. In terms of cricket obviously you get some sort of respect, but the game moves on. And obviously, you’re a World Cup winner and that’s in the back your mind but we’ve still got to move on and perform. 

It changes your life, the fact you’re a World Cup winner which not many people have got and there’s those memories that you cherish. The fact people got to watch England win a World Cup in England in such a dramatic fashion is always gonna be in the back of people’s minds when they think of that [tournament] and they maybe think of my name, they realise I played that game and so it brings up some happy memories – so that’s always nice to have. In terms of going forward, you’ve always got that but you need to keep developing – the world doesn’t stop when you win the World Cup.

What qualities do you see in this England football side which has helped them be successful?

You just want them to go out and express themselves because there’s so many good players when you watch the Premier League and see how skilful they are, some of the goals and some of the play on a week-to-week basis – and you just want them to come together and do that in the international squad. But it’s also about winning. And that’s what the key is, isn’t it, not conceding goals which they’ve been so good at.

Looking at the group you just want them to grow together, you feel like they’ve made some adjustments. It’s been a couple of people they have been brought in and people they have left out, but it feels like it’s been a set squad and some exciting talents come in and being told to express themselves. It’s been great to watch.