England’s Lionesses are on their way back to the UK from Australia after their heartbreaking loss to Spain in the Women’s World Cup final.
Sarina Wiegman’s side were beaten 1-0 yesterday – their first appearance in the final of the tournament since its inception in 1991.
It was also Spain’s first major tournament win – and England’s first defeat under their Dutch manager in two years.
Before leaving their hotel for the airport, two of England’s senior stars shared their reflections on the match on social media.
Alex Greenwood, who played on with a bandage around her head during the final vowed that ‘We will be back.’
The 29-year-old defender wrote on Instagram: ‘This one hurts a lot and will for a while,’
‘However, I just want to say thank you to the whole team I have just spent the last nine weeks with, it was an incredible journey with amazing people, I am so proud of you all.’
‘Sorry we couldn’t bring it home!! Humble in victory, gracious in defeat, we will be back!!’
Lucy Bronze added: ‘Don’t really have the enough words right now. Thank you to all the fans who have supported us on this journey. Your support has meant the world to us.
‘Thank you to all my Lionesses teammates, I couldn’t be more proud of every single one of them.’
The right back, 31, who plays in Spain for club side Barcelona, said: ‘And congratulations to Spain for their World Cup victory.’
Despite falling short, many supporters are hoping the defeated Lionesses get a hero’s welcome when they fly back from Sydney.
One said online: ‘There should still be a homecoming parade or celebration for the Lionesses.’
‘They need to know the effect and pride they have inspired throughout the tournament.’
Another said: ‘Gutted but so proud. I hope there is a homecoming parade for when they’re back, they deserve it.’
‘Still want the parade,’ said another post.
‘I still want Trafalgar Square. I still want the laps of honour at their home grounds.’
King Charles and Prince William and Kate also sent their best wishes to the Lionesses after their defeat.
In a message posted on the official royal family website, the King wrote: ‘While I know how sore it must be, let none of you feel defeated, for to have reached the final at all is an immense tribute to your skill, determination and team spirit in the finest sporting tradition.’
A tweet from the Kensington Palace account said: ‘Although it’s the result none of us wanted, @Lionesses you have done yourselves and this nation proud.
‘Your spirit & drive have inspired so many people and paved the way for generations to come. Thank you for the footballing memories.
‘Congratulations to Spain.’
The post was signed off with a ‘W’, indicating it was sent from Prince William.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sent his own post after the final whistle, saying: ‘You left absolutely nothing out there @Lionesses.
‘It wasn’t to be, but you’ve already secured your legacy as game changers.
‘We are all incredibly proud of you.’
Labour leader Keir Starmer, who had called for a bank holiday if England claimed the trophy, said the result was ‘heartbreaking’.
He tweeted: ‘So proud of the England team who inspired the whole country. This is just the beginning for the @Lionesses.’
Once the Lionesses are back on home soil, they will have some time off before their next game.
They will take on Scotland in the Nations League at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light on September 22.
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