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Houghton: We want to inspire the next generation

City and England skipper Steph Houghton hopes budding footballers back home can take heart from her team's success in the Women's World Cup.

The Lionesses shocked the footballing world by triumphing over tournament hosts Canada last night to reach the last four for the first time and the defender could not hide her delight, insisting she would love to be part of a squad of role models.

She declared: "We all mention the Olympics and how much of a watershed moment that was for women's football in England.

"Playing at Wembley and getting 70,000 fans to watch us beat Brazil was a massive moment but the fact we're making history - we made history the other day and again last night - shows how much people are supporting us back at home.

"We always said we had one aim when we came here - that was to inspire.

"If the mums and dads let their young girls watch the game late last night in England, hopefully we'll get a lot of young girls playing football at an early age and in the next few years, we'll have a stronger English national team.

"That's the ultimate aim and we want to keep growing the game. Hopefully, we've inspired those girls to do that."

Reflecting on the victory in Vancouver, Houghton praised her team's togetherness and spirit as the factors behind their success.

"We couldn't ask for any more," she asserted. "We had two chances and scored two goals and it means means so much to us.

"To play under that pressure and come away with a semi-final place in a World Cup, is brilliant. I’m delighted for everyone in England.

"We’ve been on a big journey since Mark [Sampson] took over 18 months ago. It all came down to this game and everyone ran themselves into the ground. There was a lot of pressure on us from the crowd.

"We needed big moments. Jodie Taylor came back from injury and scored with her first chance and Lucy Bronze scored from a set piece.

"I think we were comfortable though we were obviously a bit disappointed about the goal that we conceded before half-time. Even so, I think in the second half everyone saw a totally different England team.

"Canada threw everything at us - the kitchen sink, the lot - and if you look at our defending, we were outstanding. Everybody ran through a brick wall for each other.

"It just shows how much character we have got in this team and how much belief we have to try and get to a final.

"If you look at this tournament, we've played Mexico and Colombia and obviously we're higher ranked then them so I think we've experienced both now in terms of being expected to win and playing a bit of the underdog.

"We treat every game as it comes and we know that it's going to be a massive game on Wednesday against Japan. We've got to respect them because they're world champions for a reason.

"Now, it's all about recovering. We will obviously enjoy this moment but then we will travel to Edmonton and focus on trying our best to get into a final."

You can see your World Cup heroes in action when the FA Women's Super League resumes on Sunday 12 July.

MCWFC face Birmingham City Ladies at 2pm at the Academy Stadium and ticket information can be found here.


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