Our hearts go out to England after the agonising end to yesterday’s match against Japan. Words cannot describe how gutted we are to miss out on a place in the Women’s World Cup final, but it goes without saying that we are beyond proud of the extraordinary strength, courage and dedication the Lionesses have shown throughout the entire tournament.
While England’s Fara Williams’ penalty levelled the score to 1-1, matching the holders for over 90 minutes, defender Laura Bassett’s injury-time own goal was what cinched Japan’s place in next Sunday’s final.
The look on Bassett’s face said it all. It was agonising. She was inconsolable as her team mates crowded her in support. The word ‘undeserving’ doesn’t even begin to describe it.
‘It really is heart-breaking. I’m so proud of them,’ said Manager, Mark Sampson. ‘I’ve told them it’s okay to cry.’ Thanks Mark, we could do with a shoulder to cry on.
But seriously, this does not define her. ‘She’s epitomised this England team this tournament. She’s been courageous, strong, kept this group together,’ continued Sampson. ‘She’ll be looked upon as a hero.’ That is what defines her – a hero. Mark, once again, you’ve taken the words right out of our mouths.
An unfortunate end, but what a game. England played strong, pressing Japan with multiple near-misses and close-calls, proving to be a force to be reckoned with. They are lionesses, after all.
And let us remind you of Captain Steph Houghton’s words a few games back: ‘Our aim before coming here was to inspire a nation. Hopefully we’ve done that.’ Oh, you’ve definitely done that!
They have changed the face of women’s football, making history in the process. Regardless of England’s positioning, they have inspired a nation of girls to take up football and get involved in a sport that is predominantly male domain. Well, not anymore!
The strength of these women is incredible and a perfect example of what the This Girl Can campaign strives to achieve. We reckon a lot of us will be whipping out our Bend It Like Beckham DVDs.
So Bassett, hold your head up high, girl. Forget about the own goal, and be proud of the team’s goal – to inspire a nation – because you’ve done just that.
Make sure to watch England versus Germany this Saturday 4 July. Third place is still up for grabs!