Ellie Goulding, Ella Henderson and England aces past and present kicked off UEFA Women’s EURO England 2022 in show-stopping style in Manchester.
Superstars from the sporting world and beyond took to the red carpet on Thursday as the draw for the hotly-anticipated showpiece came to town.
Pop stars Goulding, 34, and Henderson, 25, delivered stunning live performances as Gabby Logan and Alex Scott presented the show – broadcast live on BBC One – from Victoria Warehouse, Manchester.
And football aces Ruben Dias, Juan Mata and former England goalkeeper David James were also in attendance as the hottest names in town officially kick-started the countdown to the biggest women’s European sport event in history.
Goulding revelled in opening the show in style and the award-winning artist, who has shot to the summit of the UK charts with three No.1 hit singles, said: “I’m so excited to be a part of a show that celebrates women’s football on a national and global scale.
“It was so incredible to see everyone come together for the men’s football EURO earlier this year and with the women’s tournament being held in major cities, hopefully this can be a real moment to bring everyone together to make this the biggest women’s tournament yet.”
Henderson, whose debut album Chapter One topped the charts in 2014, added: "I’m so happy to be part of a huge night for women’s football, as we countdown to the UEFA Women’s EURO in 2022.
“It’s amazing that this record-breaking tournament is right on our doorstep and I’m excited to see the buzz it creates for women’s sport, next summer.”
The public ballot for tickets opened at 19.00 (BST) on 28 October
and closes on 16 November.
Remaining tickets will go on general sale from mid-February 2022 ahead of the curtain-raiser at Old Trafford on July 6 and Wembley final on July 31.
Former England Women’s star Fara Williams and current Lioness Lucy Bronze were two of the footballing talent in attendance as the country’s leading lights descended on the iconic venue for one night only.
And Karen Carney, Kelly Smith and Katherine Grainger also featured as the countdown to the eagerly-anticipated tournament kicked off in style.
Bronze can't wait to take to Old Trafford for England's curtain raiser against Austria on July 6 and the Manchester City ace said: “It's going to be exciting. I think the pressure is there, being the home nation, but it's only what you perceive it to be.
"We can look at it like 'there are going to be so many more eyes on us' but equally, there are so many more eyes supporting us as well.
"So we have that 12th person in the stadium, supporting us. Arguably, no nation is going to have the same as us. We've developed a lot, certainly since I've been involved.
"We've reached semi-finals of Euros, of World Cups. This team now has that experience of getting a little bit further - we just need that little push to get to the end."
Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman, whose team will also face Norway and Northern Ireland in Group A, added: "It starts to feel real now - now we know, everyone knows. We can start preparing for things.
"Buy tickets! The opening game is going to be massive, when the crowd is there, they will be our 12th woman behind us. We just want the fans to help us put in a great performance."
The UEFA Women’s EURO England 2022 ticket ballot application window is now open and closes 16 November. For more information and to enter the public ballot for tickets, visit www.uefa.com/womenseuro/ticketing