Lionesses ‘inspired’ nation despite defeat – William

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England players slumped to the ground at the final whistle as World Champions Spain celebrated
By Sean Seddon
BBC News

The Prince of Wales assured the Lionesses they have “done yourselves and this nation proud” as support flooded in for the defeated side.

Royals, ex-players and politicians heaped praise on the England team after they were narrowly beaten 1-0 by Spain in the Women’s World Cup final.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said “it wasn’t to be, but you’ve already secured your legacy as game-changers”.

The King told the Lionesses “let none of you feel defeated”.

England lost by one goal to Spain after a tense ninety minutes and going close by hitting the bar, pushing the eventual champions right up until the final whistle.

Supporters across the country have expressed their pride over a team which lifted the European Championships trophy last year, and had already made history by becoming the first England women’s national team to reach a World Cup final.

William, who received criticism from some for not attending the final in person, shared a message of support shortly after the final whistle.

The royal – who is president of the Football Association – said: “Although it’s the result none of us wanted, Lionesses you have done yourselves and this nation proud.

“Your spirit and drive have inspired so many people and paved the way for generations to come.

“Thank you for the footballing memories. Congratulations to Spain.”

Charles, who was attending church near Balmoral with the Queen during the match, also sent his thoughts and commiserations to the team.

“While I know how sore it must be, let none of you feel defeated, for to have reached the final at all is an immense tribute to your skill, determination and team spirit in the finest sporting tradition,” he said.

It was heartbreak for fans watching the final across the country

Jeannie Allott, a member of the original Lionesses team of 1972, heaped praise on England goalkeeper Mary Earps, who frustrated the Spaniards with a stunning second-half penalty save.

Speaking at Boxpark Wembley after the match, she said: “I wish she was my sister. I love her. An absolutely brilliant keeper. She will go far.”

She added: “If I’m really honest, I think Spain were that little bit better, but not always the best team wins of course.

“We did have three or four chances not taken, shame. Otherwise it could have been a different match, but Spain were a really good team.”

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, who was sent to Sydney to represent the government, said: “They inspired millions across the country with glorious performances, moments of magic and relentless determination and desire.

“An incredible journey has come to an end but it will never be forgotten.”

Mr Sunak said “we are all incredibly proud of you” after the match, which he watched in a pub in his Richmond constituency.

“You left absolutely nothing out there Lionesses,” he added. “It wasn’t to be, but you’ve already secured your legacy as game changers.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the defeat was “heartbreaking” but was “just the beginning” for a side which includes several young players likely to play for England for many years.

He added: “So proud of the England team who inspired the whole country.”

Match of the Day host and former England striker Gary Lineker said: “Gutted for the Lionesses who gave their all, but congratulations to Spain on winning the World Cup.

“They were the better team and thoroughly deserved their victory.”

Women’s World Cup 2023: Spain defeat England to win the Women’s World Cup 2023

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