(Reuters) - England hope their victory in the Women's European Championship final will inspire a new generation of players and urged the fans who followed them up and down the country in record numbers to stick with them when they return to domestic football.
An extra-time goal from Manchester City's Chloe Kelly secured a 2-1 win over Germany at Wembley on Sunday in front of 87,192 fans, an attendance record for a UEFA tournament, men's or women's.
The final also had a peak television audience of 17.4 million people on the BBC, the highest United Kingdom audience for a women's match.
England had set a record for the attendance for a women's Euros match when 68,871 watched them take on Austria in the opening match of the tournament at Old Trafford.
"I think the whole journey ... Old Trafford feels like so long ago, we don't forget the fans that came out to watch us at that game," Kelly said, adding that she hoped their victory would swell attendances during the Women's Super League.
"Also, every stadium where a game has been, the fans have been brilliant. I hope the fans can stay and enjoy the ride in the WSL as well because it's a long journey for women's football, how far it has come. Stay on the ride with us."
While England played to packed stadiums during the tournament the WSL struggles to get fans through the doors. The Football Association has set a target of an average attendance of 6,000 supporters at WSL matches by 2024.
Chelsea's Fran Kirby said England's performances at the Euros proved that the WSL deserved more attention.
"Hopefully we can take this into the WSL, and into the league, generate the crowds, and get people involved in women's football," Kirby said. "Because we showed tonight, we deserve it."
Manchester City forward Lauren Hemp thanked the women who had "paved the way" for England's success.
"(They) have allowed us to play on an amazing stage like that, in front of thousands of fans," Hemp said.
"And hopefully we've inspired some young girls and boys to take it up in the future. I think that was our aim, and I think we achieved it."
(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)