With just hours to go before the biggest match in their history, England’s women’s football team received a very special phone call wishing them luck. The Duke of Cambridge, President of the Football Association, spoke to the players as they prepared to challenge for a place in the World Cup final and told them that they were a ‘true inspiration’.
Speaking to Prince William was a surprise for the squad- Kensington Palace later confirmed that only manager, Mark Sampson, had known in advance about the call. William rang in as the team began discussing tactics ahead of tonight’s big game in Canada – the first time England’s women have been in a World Cup semi final.
Snippets of the conversation were later made public with The Duke of Cambridge telling the team, known as the Lionesses, ‘Many, many congratulations to you all for what you have achieved so far and best of luck for today’s match.’ William also reminded them of the support they have back home saying ‘everyone is following your progress and you are making the country proud.’
The prince met the Lionesses before they left to start their World Cup campaign at the National Football Centre at St George’s Park in Staffordshire. He posed for photos with the players before wishing them luck for their campaign and telling them that ‘the World Cup is a great platform to raise yourself to the next level.It will all be televised so we can see how you’re doing back home.’ And William made reference to the support the current campaign had got in England when he told the players in the surprise phone call that ‘there is a fantastic buzz around the country. You are a true inspiration to all football fans, boys and girls, back home.’
England play Japan, the defending champions, at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton and start the match as underdogs. But after their impressive 2-1 win against hosts Canada in the quarter finals the momentum is with them. Japan are currently fourth in the world rankings, two places ahead of England, but their previous meetings are in the Lionesses’ favour. Two of their three clashes so far have ended in draws but England claimed victory in their only other meeting.
The match kicks off at midnight our time and two hours later England will know whether, for the first time in 49 years, a national football team has made it to a World Cup Final. And win or lose one thing is sure – the FA President will be cheering them on all the way.
Photo credit: World Bank Photo Collection via Flickr