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Women's World Cup

Inspiring Houghton is one of the greatest England players of all time - Telford

22:30 WAT 03/07/2019
Telford Houghton England 2019
The Lionesses' skipper missed a penalty in their Women's World Cup semi-final defeat to the USA, but her team-mate says she remains a national hero

Carly Telford called Steph Houghton “one of the greatest English players of all time” after England’s Women’s World Cup semi-final defeat to the United States.

Houghton, captain of the Lionesses, stepped up to take a crucial penalty late in the game with her team trailing 2-1, with Nikita Parris having missed the last two.

But Alyssa Naeher was equal to her effort as England crashed out and the United States reached their third consecutive World Cup final.

Houghton’s performance came in for praise though and Telford, who has played with the skipper since youth level at Sunderland, also celebrated her quality after the defeat.

“The fact that she picked up the ball and took [the penalty] is inspiring in itself,” the goalkeeper said.

“To do that in such a big moment, as a captain, as a leader… For me, she’s one of the greatest English players of all time. She’ll go down for that.

“Missing a penalty, so what? It’s a big stage, it’s a big moment. 50-50 they go in, they get saved. That’s just how it is.

“Yes, not to say if she scores that we go on to win it or we go on to lose it. It doesn’t mean anything.

“For me, it’s just brave enough that she took the penalty in the first place. I’m proud of her.”

Neville too expressed his pride in Houghton and also in the team after the game, after their valiant effort against the world champions.

And while Telford, at the age of 31, speculates that it could be her final World Cup tournament, she is confident in the future of this England team.

“For me, the older ones, we’re probably looking at it like maybe that was our last chance to get to a World Cup final,” the Chelsea shot-stopper said.

“You can see that potentially we know this is our last World Cup for a lot of us. If my body holds together then I might make the next one, but I doubt it.

“We know, that’s probably the devastating thing. We know how close we were and how close we are to being number one and lifting a trophy eventually. But we’ve come up short again

“I think that’s the hard thing. Everything just felt so right for us again but we’ve come up short.

“But we’re handing over a baton to an amazing group of youngsters that have done it before and can go into major tournaments with their heads held high,” Telford continued.

“Once there was a time when we couldn’t get close to the Americans.

“There’s a lot of respect when they’re having to play defensive against us and blocking out into a five or a four.

“So we got massive respect from them but at the same time, we didn’t win, it’s not good enough.

“We came into this tournament saying we wanted to win it and that’s why we’re all devastated.”

We’re very, very close to the USA. We know that. But look, it’s fine margins when it comes to tournament football and they punished us where they could.”