Megan Rapinoe: Fans launch petition to get USA star on front cover of FIFA 20 after Women’s World Cup triumph

14 Jul

A petition has been launched for USA forward Megan Rapinoe to be the cover star of FIFA 20.

The 34-year-old was sensational for her country as they won the World Cup for a fourth time.

Megan Rapinoe won the Golden Boot and Golden Ball
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She picked up the Golden Boot and Golden Ball after scoring six goals and made an impact both on and off the pitch.

Rapinoe was vocal in her criticism of US president Donald Trump throughout the tournament and refused to go to the White House in the aftermath of the team’s success.

There has never been a woman on the cover of the popular video game and a petition has been on started on Change.org by Darren Holland to try and change that.

He said: “FIFA needs to change its policy on prize money but that’s just the start.

“More exposure of this team and women’s football will help change their minds.

“EA has already done more than FIFA in terms of support so this is a no-brainer which I know they must be contemplating.

“Much respect to IGN for the original post and image on social media.”

There have been just 197 signatures on the petition (at the time of publication) since it was posted on social media on Thursday.

USA 2 Netherlands 0 live on talkSPORT: States close in on Women’s World Cup glory – live commentary stream

7 Jul

The Women’s World Cup final is finally upon us as the USA and the Netherlands battle it out for glory.

talkSPORT has brought you exclusive coverage of the tournament all summer long and we will be across today’s showdown too as the trophy gets awarded.

Alex Morgan and USA take on the Netherlands in the Women’s World Cup final
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USA ended England’s dreams in the semi-finals, winning 2-1 after Steph Houghton missed a late penalty.

The Dutch needed extra-time to squeeze past Sweden in their final four clash but a 1-0 win set up their chance at glory.

Netherlands have never reached the final before and will take on a States side who are most successful country in World Cup history.

They won it in 2015 and will be eager to retain their title but can the Dutch spring a surprise?

talkSPORT will have full and exclusive coverage of the final and here’s how you can catch all the action.

USA vs Netherlands: Date and kick-off time

This clash will take place on Sunday, July 7 and will kick off at 4pm UK time.

It is being held at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon – the ground where both sides won their semi-final ties.

The Netherlands are in the Womens World Cup final for the first time
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USA vs Netherlands: Live on talkSPORT

talkSPORT has exclusive rights to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and will be broadcasting all the action from Lyon live.

Our coverage of the final will begin at 3pm and to tune in, just click here for the live stream or click the radio below.

Natalie Sawyer will host talkSPORT’s live coverage, while Sam Matterface and Claire Rafferty will bring you live commentary.

Route to the final

USA

USA 13-0 Thailand (Group F)

USA 3-0 Chile (Group F)

Sweden 0-2 USA (Group F)

Spain 1-2 USA (last 16)

France 1-2 USA (quarter-final)

England 1-2 USA (semi-final)

Netherlands

New Zealand 0-1 Netherlands (Group E)

Netherlands 3-1 Cameroon (Group E)

Netherlands 2-1 Canada (Group E)

Netherlands 2-1 Japan (last 16)

Italy 0-2 Netherlands (quarter-final)

Netherlands 1-0 Sweden AET (semi-final)

USA vs Netherlands: Confirmed teams

USA: Naeher, O’Hara, Dahlkemper, Sauerbrunn, Dunn, Mewis, Ertz, Lavelle, Heath, Morgan, Rapinoe.

Subs: Harris, Pugh, Brian, Horan, Lloyd, Krieger, Davidson, Sonnett, Long, McDonald, Press, Franch.

Netherlands: Van Veenendaal, Van Lunteren, Dekker, Van der Gragt, Bloodworth, Groenen, Van de Donk, Spitse, Beerensteyn, Miedema, Martens.

Subs: Kop, van Dongen, Van Es, Van de Sanden, Pelova, Renate Jansen, Kaagman, Ellen Jansen, Kerkdijk, Roord, Van der Most, Geurts.

Referee: Stephanie Frappart (Paris)

Who will win the Women’s World Cup?
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England vs Sweden live on talkSPORT: Full coverage and confirmed line-ups for Women’s World Cup third place play-off

6 Jul

England and Sweden go head-to-head in the Women’s World Cup today and the third place play-off clash will be live on talkSPORT.

Phil Neville’s Lionesses pushed the USA all the way in their semi-final but came up short, losing 2-1 after Steph Houghton missed a late penalty.

Ellen White and England will be looking to claim third in the Women’s World Cup
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Sweden, meanwhile, were beaten 1-0 by the Netherlands in extra-time to also miss out on the final.

Now, the two will face off for third place before heading off on their holidays.

England beat Germany in the play-off in 2015 to secure third with Fara Williams scoring an extra-time winner.

Can Houghton and co end their tournament on a high? You can find out live on talkSPORT.

England vs Sweden: Date and kick-off time

This clash will take place on Saturday, July 6 and will kick off at 4pm UK time.

It is being held at the Allianz Riviera in Nice – the ground where England won twice during the group stage and Sweden smashed Thailand.

England vs Sweden: Live on talkSPORT

talkSPORT has exclusive rights to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and will be broadcasting all the action from Nice live.

Our coverage of the tie will begin at 3pm and to tune in, just click here for the live stream or click the radio below.

Natalie Sawyer will host talkSPORT’s live coverage, while Sam Matterface, Claire Rafferty and Fara Williams will bring you live commentary.

We’ll also have the final between USA and the Netherlands live on talkSPORT tomorrow.

England lost 2-1 to the USA in the Women’s World Cup semi-finals
AFP or licensors

England vs Sweden: What has been said?

Ellen White says England have been hurting after their World Cup semi-final defeat but will be ‘putting everything we can’ into beating Sweden.

The England forward said: “Obviously initially and yesterday it was still the same feeling of being really devastated and gutted to have not reached that final. I think we’ve taken a good few days to really feel that emotion.

“But I think we’ve come together now and we’ve said we’ll be putting everything we can (into) and sticking together for this bronze medal match, and that’s our priority now, to focus on that game against Sweden and hopefully get that result that we want.

“We want to go away from this tournament now feeling really proud and having something to really hold on to.”

Phil Neville’s England take on Sweden today
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England vs Sweden: Confirmed teams

England: Telford, Bronze, Houghton, McManus, Greenwood,
Kirby, Scott, Moore, Parris, White, Mead.

Subs: Bardsley, Walsh, Taylor, Duggan, Stokes, Williamson, Daly, Stanway, Carney, Staniforth, Earps.

Sweden: Lindahl, Glas, Fischer, Sembrant, Eriksson, Bjorn, Asllani, Seger, Jakobsson, Blackstenius, Rolfo.

Subs: Faik, Andersson, Janogy, Hurtig, Ilestedt, Roddar, Zigiotti Olme, Anvegard, Larsson, Schough, Rubensson, Musovic.

‘Nothing wrong’ with USA’s celebrations against England at Women’s World Cup, says Kelly Smith on talkSPORT

3 Jul

England legend Kelly Smith has told talkSPORT there was nothing wrong with the United States’ celebrations during and after their World Cup semi-final victory.

The Lionesses lost 2-1 in Lyon, after Ellen White had a goal ruled out for offside via VAR and Steph Houghton missed a late penalty which would have put the game into extra-time.

Ellen White fired England level before Alex Morgans winner – with Houghton going on to later miss a penalty
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The USA were blasted for being ’arrogant’ in the build-up to Tuesday’s clash – which broke UK TV audience records for a Women’s football match.

And they were criticised further after star striker Alex Morgan taunted England with a ‘tea-sipping’ celebration, while England captain Haughton branded US midfielder Lindsey Horan ‘disrespectful’ for interrupting a post-match interview by loudly celebrating with a team-mate in the media area.

Morgan’s celebration, in particular, sparked a huge reaction on Twitter.

But England’s record goalscorer, Smith, says the world’s number one team had every right to celebrate ‘however they wanted’ after reaching their third consecutive World Cup final.

Speaking on Wednesday’s Sports Breakfast, the former striker said: “Do you know what, they’re the number one team in the world, they’re hungry and successful and it doesn’t bother me one bit.

“I took my boot off and kissed in 2007 and I got told I was arrogant.

Kelly Smith began kissing her boot after scoring during her peak for England – seen here against Japan in the 2007 World Cup
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“You live for these moments. You train your whole life for that moment. So when you score in the World Cup semi-final you can celebrate how you want.

“It doesn’t bother me one bit.”

Despite the disappointment of the result, and their manager Phil Neville saying before the game not reaching the final would be classed as failure, Smith says the Lionesses can come home with their heads held high after a brilliant tournament.

They could still come away with a bronze medal, after all, as they will take on either Netherlands or Sweden in Saturday’s third-place play-off.

“When you play the USA, you have to play at your best,” added the ex-Arsenal Ladies forward.

The United States were just too good for England, with Morgan scoring her sixth goal of the tournament
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“They’ve reached their third World Cup final in a row and they’re the best team in the world so you have to raise your game.

“It was always going to be a difficult game for us, and I thought we had enough to do it, but the girls should be proud of themselves.

“They shifted the perception of the women’s game, they made TV viewing history, and I just hope they can bring that bronze medal home on Saturday.”

Listen back to Kelly Smith on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast IN FULL above

England vs USA confirmed team news: Megan Rapinoe drops to the bench and Phil Neville makes three changes for Women’s World Cup semi-final

2 Jul

England have named three changes to the side which beat Norway for their Women’s World Cup semi-final against the USA on Tuesday night.

Goalkeeper Carly Telford replaces Karen Bardsley, who has reportedly sustained a hamstring injury, while there is no place for Fran Kirby or Toni Duggan in the starting XI.

There is no place for Rapinoe in the USA starting XI
Getty Images - Getty

Rachel Daly and Beth Mead are both handed starts as the Lionesses bid to overcome the No. 1 ranked nation and reach their first ever World Cup final.

Meanwhile, the USA’s star player Megan Rapinoe has surprisingly dropped to the bench despite no reports of an injury.

Rapinoe is the tournament’s joint-top scorer with five goals after scoring twice during the 2-1 victory over France in the quarter-finals.

It is thought her replacement, Christen Press, is more likely to track back against England’s attack-minded full-back Lucy Bronze.

Sam Mewis also makes way for the USA, with Lindsey Horan replacing her in midfield.


Listen to England vs USA live on talkSPORT, kick-off 8pm


Confirmed team news

England: Telford, Bronze, Houghton, Bright, Stokes, Walsh, Scott, Mead, Daly, Parris, White.

Subs: Bardsley, Greenwood, Taylor, Kirby, Duggan, Williamson, McManus, Moore, Stanway, Carney, Staniforth, Earps.
USA: Naeher, O’Hara, Dahlkemper, Sauerbrunn, Dunn, Horan, Ertz, Lavelle, Heath, Morgan, Press.

Subs: Harris, Pugh, Mewis, Brian, Lloyd, Krieger, Davidson, Sonnett, Rapinoe, Long, McDonald, Franch.

Women’s World Cup: Security remove suspected spy at England training ahead of semi-final against USA

1 Jul

An onlooker appeared to be spying on England’s training session ahead of their Women’s World Cup semi-final against the USA on Tuesday.

Security staff had to remove the individual from the Lionesses’ training base in Lyon after he was spotted in the bushes above the pitch.

A man can be seen watching the Lionesses train through the bushes
News Group Newspapers Ltd

The incident comes just a day after two members of the United States’ staff were seen in private areas of England’s hotel while the Lionesses were outside training.

Phil Neville laughed off the suggestion it would give rivals USA the upper hand and coach Jill Ellis denied any wrongdoing, claiming they were just scouting a potential base for the final on Sunday, which will also be held in Lyon.

Fresh doubts will surround those claims following Monday’s events.

The Lionesses were going through the motions on Monday when the individual was spotted by security staff
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In footage captured by ITV News, a man wearing white trousers and a blue coat can be seen peering through the greenery above the Terrain d’Honneur Lyon base.

Security then rush over to the area in which the person is stood, but seem unable to reach him due to a fence.

Lionesses boss Neville questioned the etiquette of their semi-final opponents after it was revealed that two plain-clothed US delegates were given a tour of England’s hotel on Sunday.

He said: “The only thing I would say is that it’s not something I would want my team ops person to do.

“I’m happy with my team hotel and I hope they are enjoying their hotel. It’s not something we would have done, sending someone around to (the opponents) hotel and I’m sure they will be dealing with it.

“It doesn’t give them an unfair advantage. It has no bearing on the game. I thought it was quite funny. I was thinking, ‘What are they are doing?’ But it’s not etiquette, is it? It’s not something my team would be doing.”

USA goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher rejected any accusations of poor form, insisting they scout every hotel they plan to stay in.

“That has nothing to do with the game,” she said.

“Our managers and operations have scouted out every hotel we’ve ever stayed in or every potential hotel we stay in, to make sure we’ve got plan A, plan B, plan C.

“It’s just our operations checking all the boxes and preparing for whatever path we take.”

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa admitted to spying on Derby’s training session ahead of a Championship match between the two clubs last season, in a saga which quickly became known as ‘Spygate’.

The Whites were fined £200,000 and given a severe reprimand by the English Football League.

Former England star Sue Smith: ‘We struggled to find our scores in newspapers, now it’s huge’

27 Jun

A record 6.9 million people tuned into BBC One on Sunday as Sue Smith described the Lionesses’ chaotic 3-0 victory over Cameroon in the last-16 of the Women’s World Cup.

It was something of a watershed moment for the game.

Alex Greenwood celebrates with the England squad after her strike in Valenciennes
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Not only was it the most-watched women’s football match in history, the spectacle was inescapable whichever way you looked, grabbing the back page of every newspaper and headlining news bulletins.

Perhaps for the first time in this country, women’s football became a genuine part of popular culture, and momentum will only grow ahead of tonight’s quarter-final against Norway.

It represents a far cry from Smith’s first major tournament with England: 18 years ago in 2001.

Speaking at a William Hill World Cup event, the co-commentator told talkSPORT: “I remember the first tournament I went to, it was the Euros in Germany. I’d phone my mum to ask how everything was going back home.

“She would look through all the papers and find a tiny article, with just the score and the scorers. Nothing on the game. You had to really search to find any coverage.

“You look at now and how huge it is. Not only on the T.V, it’s on the radio, in the newspapers. A lot of people that have maybe never been interested before are taking interest.”

There is still work to do, cultural barriers to overcome, and the occasional bigot to convince.

Sue Smith spoke exclusively to talkSPORT
William Hill

But women’s football is getting there faster than ever. Going back even further, only 10,400 female players competed in 1993, compared to 147,000 now, according to the latest FA figures.

Meanwhile, it is estimated that more than one million girls play kickabout football, and Smith hopes the Lionesses can inspire more youngsters to get involved properly.

“If they can continue to be successful as well, that would be massive for the game. You hope that would encourage more youngsters to take up football, whether it’s boys or girls, and ultimately just keep growing the game,” Smith added.

The Lionesses face Norway for a place in the semi-finals
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“That’s what we all want. The girls are focussed on winning the tournament, but we as outsiders want the game to keep growing. They’re all very good role models at the moment and it’s just great that it continues to go in the right direction.”

Before England can entertain any ideas of World Cup glory, they must overcome a serious test in Le Havre on Thursday night.

And Smith expects the Lionesses to rise to the occasion and show the country what they’re capable of.


Listen to Norway vs England live on talkSPORT, 8pm kick-off


“I don’t think we’ve peaked,” she added.

“I think this is an opportunity for England to peak and show how good they are. If we perform at the level we’re capable of, I see us beating Norway.

“Then it’s a massive test against either France or USA in the semis.”

England Women are 6/1 with William Hill to win the Women’s World Cup

Norway vs England on talkSPORT: Full coverage and live commentary stream, confirmed line-ups for Women’s World Cup quarter-final clash

27 Jun

England take on Norway in the Women’s World Cup quarter-finals tonight and the huge match will be live on talkSPORT.

Phil Neville’s Lionesses battled through a fiery Round of 16 tie against Cameroon on Sunday to reach the last eight.

England beat the African nation 3-0 but the game was marred by VAR controversies, allegations of spitting and a host of other ugly scenes.

Phil Neville’s England take on Norway tonight
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Norway, meanwhile, reached the quarters by beating Australia on penalties after a 1-1 draw in Nice.

England beat the Norwegians 2-1 in the Round of 16 in the last Women’s World Cup in 2015 with Steph Houghton and Lucy Bronze netting.

They will be eager to knock them out again and reach their second successive semi-final on the world stage.

Norway vs England: Date and kick-off time

This clash will take place on Thursday, June 27 and will kick off at 8pm UK time.

It is being held at the Stade Oceane in Le Havre – the ground where England beat Argentina 1-0 in the group stage.

Norway vs England: Live on talkSPORT

talkSPORT has exclusive rights to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and will be broadcasting all the action from Le Havre live.

Our coverage of the quarter-final tie will begin at 7pm and to tune in, just click here for the live stream or click the radio below.

Natalie Sawyer will host talkSPORT’s live coverage, while Sam Matterface, Claire Rafferty and Fara Williams will bring you live commentary.

We’ll have every England game, both semi-finals, and the final live across the talkSPORT network over the coming weeks.

Norway vs England: What has been said?

England captain Steph Houghton is a major doubt for the clash.

Houghton was on the receiving end of a horror challenge towards the end of the win over Cameroon and is struggling with an ankle issue as a result.

Neville, who also said fellow defender Millie Bright is also a doubt through illness, is hopeful Houghton will train on the eve of the game before making a final decision.

“Both are major doubts,” he said of Houghton and Bright.

“Steph because of the tackle, we are hoping she takes part in some training today, that is the key for Steph.

“Millie has got a virus that is going a little bit through the camp so she is probably more of a doubt than Steph. We are going to give them right to the last minute to be fit.”

Phil Neville was furious with the challenge which injured England star Steph Houghton
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Norway vs England: Confirmed teams

NORWAY 

Hjelmseth, Moe Wold, Thorisdottir, Mjelde, Boe Risa, Herlovsen, Graham-Hansen, Engen, Reiten, Minde, Saevik.


Ada Hegerberg: Why is Ballon d’Or winner NOT playing for Norway at the Women’s World Cup?


ENGLAND 

Bardsley, Bronze, Houghton, Bright, Stokes, Walsh, Parris, Scott, Kirby, Duggan, White.

England Women team news: Predicted line-up for Lionesses’ side for Women’s World Cup quarter-final against Norway

27 Jun

England Women have the chance to make their third straight semi-final at a major tournament when they take on Norway at the Women’s World Cup on Thursday night – a match you can listen to LIVE on talkSPORT.

The Lionesses reached the semis of Euro 2017 and at the 2015 World Cup and they’re just one win away from grabbing a place in the last four in France.

England have won all four matches at the 2019 Women’s World Cup
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Their latest triumph saw them get a 3-0 victory in a controversial last-16 match against Cameroon.

However, England’s form has been patchy and Norway will represent their first big test of the current finals, according to former Lioness Claire Rafferty.

To make preparations more difficult for Phil Neville’s side, the manager has had a few concerns regarding the fitness of some of his players.

Captain Steph Houghton may not be available for the Norway game because she sustained an ankle injury during the closing stages of the Cameroon game following a nasty challenge from Alexandra Takounda.

Houghton was left in a heap following the aggressive tackle
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Meanwhile, the England camp have also been hit by a sickness virus with Houghton’s partner at centre-back Millie Bright confined to her hotel room. Bright did not train with her team-mates on Wednesday night.

So a mini-injury crisis greets England before arguably their biggest game since Euro 2017 but maybe this is where Neville’s rotation policy at the tournament will be hugely beneficial.

talkSPORT.com has predicted how England will line up against Norway which you can see below.

Is this how England will line up against Norway?
buildlineup.com

Neville does like to alternate between a 4-3-3 and a 4-2-3-1 but because Norway are a threat on the counter-attack, England may go for the latter option which is slightly more conservative.

Karen Bardsley is England’s No.1 so is a shoo-in to start this game, while right-back Lucy Bronze has started every World Cup game for England so far.

Alex Greenwood, who scored England’s third against Cameroon will probably play left-back as she’s started three of England’s four matches at the tournament.

As for the centre-back slots, it’s likely to be too soon to see Bright play but given Houghton trained on Wednesday, that could be enough to see the captain start.

Abbie McManus, who started England’s second group match against Argentina may get the nod to partner Houghton.

Manchester City midfielder Keira Walsh has started every single match so will surely play this one and Neville could opt to play her club team-mate Jill Scott alongside her in a defensive midfield role to combat the counter-attacking ability of the Norwegians.

However, Neville will want to maintain his attacking threat as well so Toni Duggan and Nikita Parris will play on the wings.

Duggan was a late arrival to the England fold at the World Cup but will be a huge threat to Norway
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The gifted Fran Kirby could play in the No.10 role and that could make for an interesting battle as she’s likely to come up against Chelsea team-mates Maria Thorisdottir and Maren Mjelde, who are Norway’s centre-back pairing.

And striker Ellen White, who has scored four goals in three games at these finals is in red hot form so has to start up front.

Norway vs England: Phil Neville says Lionesses have special look in their eyes ahead of World Cup quarter-final

27 Jun

Phil Neville can see in the Lionesses’ eyes that they are ready to deliver in their Women’s World Cup quarter-final against Norway on Thursday night.

The England boss feels that ahead of the contest in Le Havre – which you can listen to LIVE on talkSPORT – his players look ‘relaxed, happy and ready to win’.

Neville’s side face their toughest test yet on Thursday night
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The 42-year-old, who was appointed to the job 18 months ago, said: “We have put a lot of pressure on ourselves from day one, and we did that for moments like (now), so they are used to the pressure and expectation.

“And we ask them to have fun, we ask them to play the way that we want to play, and we keep it really relaxed.

“We have not changed anything. We have not got to a quarter-final and then started doing things differently. The routine, the consistency, is something that I have had all my life, that’s given me comfort. and it’s given the team comfort.

“The look in their eyes – every big game that comes, it looks like they want it even more. And I am a big believer in looking in their eyes.

“They look relaxed, they look happy, and they look like they are ready to win.”

He added: “At the moment things are going well and we have got real momentum.

“We don’t think about losing. My wife thinks about that – she thinks about what ifs. But my what if is: we have prepared them well, we are in good shape, we’ve played four, won four, three clean sheets. Form is good.”

Neville has noticed a different mood in the camp ahead of England’s quarter-final
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The Norway match comes four days on from the ill-tempered round of 16 clash with Cameroon in Valenciennes that Neville’s side won 3-0.

FIFA opened disciplinary proceedings against Cameroon on Wednesday over their behaviour in the game, which saw them twice remonstrate with the officials at length and look as if they may not play on after VAR decisions went against them.

Cameroon also dished out some rough challenges, while England’s Toni Duggan was spat on.

Neville spoke afterwards about feeling ashamed of Cameroon’s antics, while proud of how his own players handled things.

He says they were ‘in a state of shock’ following the match, and has revealed Football Association chairman Greg Clarke subsequently gave a speech to the England players in the team hotel, commending their behaviour.

“I think after the game they were all in a state of shock, but they were in the zone,” Neville said.

“We got back to the hotel and Greg Clarke came in and he made a fantastic speech to the players in terms of their behaviour and how important that was in such difficult circumstances.

“And then I think they started to probably process actually what they’d experienced on the field. And then they probably thought ‘you know what, we were mentally in the zone there – we were mentally strong’.

Steph Houghton is fighting to be fit for the game after being on the wrong end of a late challenge against Cameroon
Getty Images - Getty

“And that’s another barrier they have overcome.

“He just said well done under difficult circumstances. ‘You carried yourself, you showed great humility and you stayed in the zone and focused on what’s important, winning a game of football.’

“He was very proud watching, as the chairman of the FA. He travels to every game and he’s in with us, he loves it. But for him to say that to the players I thought was important because he’s a senior figure and he saw the behaviour of my team and he asked if he could say that to the players.

“I think that was when they realised actually they should be proud of the way they behaved because ultimately they were fantastic.”