CHRISTIAN RADNEDGE REPORTS:  England coach Mark Sampson was full of praise for his team after their 2-1 defeat by holders Japan in the Women’s World Cup semi-finals in Edmonton..

He said: “They gave everything. We’re a team who will go home knowing we cannot have done any more, we gave blood, sweat and tears out on that pitch. I’m very, very proud of the group and of what this has done for the women’s game back home, I know this will have a lasting legacy.

“We’re making more heroes. The way Laura Bassett has played in this tournament with pride, passion, a never say die attitude and just played for the team. OK she’s hurting now but tomorrow morning she’ll wake up, 22 teammates will give her a hug and we’ll all do the same to the whole group. They’ll be welcomed back as heroes.

“Huge credit to Japan, they’re the world champions and you saw why they are the world champions. They’ve got hearts of lions. They represented their country in a manner in which their country should be proud.

“I can’t find a word to emphasise how together this team of ours have been. They’ve been a special group to work with, they’ve been a privilege to work with and they just laid down a marker in terms of what type of people they are, what type of team they are.

“For us and for me I can’t be any prouder, and to talk about that is as good as winning the World Cup for us. It’s as good as winning the World Cup.

“We came here and we felt we could win it, we felt we could go all the way – we were the only ones in the world who thought it but we felt we could go all the way. But what we’ve achieved is as good as having a medal around your neck.”

# # # #