Lionesses Valiantly Restore Some English Pride

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England’s Lionesses were knocked out of the World Cup in the cruellest of fashions, after a 92nd minute own goal sent world champions Japan into the final. In typical English football style, it was another hard luck story and scenes of total devastation greeted the final whistle.

There is, however, something different about this particular exit than those of recent tournaments:  An overwhelming sense of pride at our national team’s success. I don’t remember being this proud of an England team at a major tournament since the men were beaten in the 2002 quarter-final against eventual winners Brazil. The difference for me is the mentality of the group. England went into last summer’s World Cup with many critics saying that they would struggle to get out of the group. Of course that’s exactly what happened; England were dumped out without recording a single victory.

The attitude about the Lionesses’ chances was a very different one compared with England’s men’s team; they were an unknown quantity, with many fans watching women’s football for the first time. I believe this has helped the team to get as far as they did, not having the same pressure the men feel. The players had a persistent, ‘never say die’ attitude throughout the tournament.

On reflection, the Lionesses were a bar’s width away from a World Cup final on several occasions. Nonetheless, they should understand how proud English football fans are of them, having made history in the way they have and in doing so becoming ambassadors for the women’s game.

Not only was England’s performance a valiant effort, it was packed with quality, both as a team and through individual performances. Lucy Bronze scored an outstanding goal, whilst Jodie Taylor appears to be a real talent with some excellent touches and a quality goal of her own. In truth, over the entire competition you could probably point to starring moments from each member of the team. I think that epitomises just how hard the girls worked for each other and what a good side they are.

It isn’t always how far they get, or if they come home empty handed, it’s about how the team plays and as a group how they conduct themselves on and off the pitch.

England’s next major competition comes next summer, as the men head to France for the Euro 2016.