MCWFC and England keeper Karen Bardsley has hailed the never-say-die attitude that helped the Lionesses claim third place in the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
Bardsley kept a vital clean sheet and was voted Player of the Match as England triumphed over Germany through a single extra time penalty to finish their campaign in Canada in style.
However, while the keeper pulled off a stunning performance between the sticks against the Germans, she was quick to thank captain Steph Houghton for a crucial goal line clearance in the first half.
The skipper’s reactions denied Germany the opening goal, and Bardsley believes that moment summed up the character throughout the squad that has inspired a generation back home.
“That epitomises what this team is about,” the England no.1 declared.
“There wasn’t a player on the pitch or on the touchline that wouldn’t have given their right leg to make sure that we won a bronze medal.
“That’s something that Mark has really honed in on; the willingness to do whatever it takes and to sacrifice everything for the team.
“That picture of Steph will be forever etched in my mind. It really does epitomise everything we have built on in the last 18 months.
“I might get that photo enlarged for her.”
Speaking after the final whistle in Edmonton, Bardsley found it tough to sum up her feelings after a game which confirmed the 2015 squad as the second-most successful England team ever behind the World Cup winning side of 1966.
History has been made by Sampson’s side, who captured the hearts and minds of the English public back home and have helped to put the spotlight on women’s football across the country.
Said Bardsley: “I’m so immensely proud to be a part of such an incredible team with an amazing group of staff members.
“It has been a fantastic journey. Every single thing has been an amazing experience and I couldn’t be prouder of my team and my nation.
“It’s really difficult because there are no words to describe how I feel. I’m just absolutely honoured to have experienced this World Cup. It’s a special moment for us.”
Manager Mark Sampson echoed his pride at the sensational achievements by this group of players, who have gone toe to toe with the world’s best during the tournament in Canada.
He was delighted that England got what they deserved against Germany, and can now look forward to the celebrations when they return home.
“They are just awesome these group of players and we deserved that,” he stated.
“We have come to this tournament and every game we have played we have been fighting away.
“We played three of the top nations in the world – France, Japan and Germany – and this team are incredible.
“[Now it’s time for] A massive, massive celebration.”
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.