Neville backs England to showcase champion spirit after World Cup exit

Neville backs England to showcase champion spirit after World Cup exit

06 July 2019 / 18:13
Phil Neville knows England will come back firing at the next scent of glory despite ending their World Cup campaign on a losing note. 


Defeat to Sweden in the third-place play-off saw England miss out on matching the bronze medal from four years ago in France, losing back-to-back World Cup matches for the first time.

But in a tournament that has gripped the country, made countless memories and inspired a generation, those involved won’t be forgetting the past month in a hurry.

And with women’s football coming back to Team GB at Tokyo 2020 thanks to finishing as one of the three best European sides, the future is most certainly bright for Neville and his talented team.

"The players came here and delivered everything I wanted – the style of play,” he said. “We have to come back in four years’ time and be better - that's sport. 

“There are many champions that have had to suffer before coming back. We go home, we dissect and we breathe and then we get back on that horse again.

"I think maybe there was carry on from the semi-final with the emotion. The two Sweden goals sparked us into life and I don't think I have seen us play better than we did after those first 20 minutes.

“We gave it our best shot, we fell short and we just have to make sure next time we are better.”

Defeat to USA on Tuesday ended the Lionesses’ chance of winning the World Cup but there was still the matter of bronze to play for against an equally-deflated Sweden side in Nice.

It was they who started on the front foot, Kosovare Asllani slotting home early on before Sofia Jakobsson made it 2-0 midway through the first half.

To their credit England responded, a superb Fran Kirby finish bringing them back into the game with 15 minutes of the half remaining.

And it looked set to be 2-2 when top scorer Ellen White turned and finished, only for the goal to be retrospectively ruled out due to a handball.

Belief was still evident as England entered the second half, with White among those thwarted by stoic defending from a Sweden side bidding for their third World Cup bronze.

The retiring Karen Carney, part of the Team GB squad to feature at her home London 2012 Olympic Games, came on for her final international appearance in a bid to force extra time.

But one more heroic act proved a step too far as the curtain fell on England’s memorable World Cup. 

Sportsbeat 2019