Former skipper White leads tributes

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Published: Thursday 2nd July 2015 by The News Editor

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A pair of former England captains led the tributes to Mark Sampson’s side after their heartbreaking Women’s World Cup semi-final defeat.

First-half penalties from Japan captain Aya Miyama and England midfielder Fara Williams appeared to have left the tie heading for extra time – until defender Laura Bassett unluckily deflected Nahomi Kawasumi’s cross into her own goal in stoppage time.

Bassett was the focus of many of the tributes including that of Faye White, who missed the decisive penalty in England’s shoot-out defeat to France in the 2011 tournament.

The former Arsenal defender wrote on Twitter: “Have felt pain like that and wouldn’t wish it on anyone. The margins at the top are so small. We win and lose as a TEAM.

“@laurabassett6 you have been immense. A true rock and put in performances you can be so proud of.#Holdyourheadup Your a true pro & we ❤️ you

“Now we just need a small % of TV audiences watching #ENG to support with their feet & go out to @FAWSL games! Support the players & teams!”

Former Gunners team-mate Kelly Smith echoed White’s thoughts and wrote: “@laurabassett6 Hold your head up high girl. You have lead by example and been IMMENSE all tournament. We ❤️ you.”

England’s performance found favour beyond their home shores, with United States greats Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain impressed as they watched to discover their country’s opponents in Sunday’s final.

Chastain, scorer of the winning penalty in the 1999 final shootout against China, tweeted: “Dear @laurabassett6 You’ve been amazing. UR fight&determination are your true character.I know the pain of an own goal but it won’t define U”

Hamm, who played and scored for the US at four separate World Cups – winning two – added: “Watching the post match interviews by the England players & coach. Pure class. You represent yourselves and your country brilliantly.thank u”

Support also came from the men’s game, with former US striker Landon Donovan tweeting: ” Absolutely devastated for @laurabassett6 We all make mistakes and I hope she doesn’t let this define her.”

Hull forward Sone Aluko, who was at the game to support an England squad featuring his sister Eni, told The Offside Rule podcast: “At the end I feel sick for Bass that she scored the own goal, but that’s football. It’s tough to take.

“From the group stages to now, everyone at home’s got behind them and the viewing numbers have grown. The quality in the team is growing and it’ll inspire a lot of girls to go on and play football.”

Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge wrote: ” @england ladies you made everyone proud of you. Hold your heads up high because you’re all stars. #Lionesses”

Kelly Simmons, the Football Association’s Director of Women’s Football, hopes the tournament represents a breakthrough despite its sad end.

“Heartbreaking way to finish,” she wrote. “So proud of the #lionesses. Painful now but a legacy of new fans and more girls inspired to play”

England striker turned Match of the Day host Gary Lineker tweeted: “Despite the gut-wrenching nature of the defeat, England’s women were terrific and should hold their heads high. Great effort!”

Published: Thursday 2nd July 2015 by The News Editor

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