Women’s World Cup: A brief history of English football’s half-century of heartbreak

English soccer endured exactly 56 years of damage between Alf Ramsey’s World Cup victory over Germany at Wembley in 1966 and Chloe Kelly stabbing house the winner on the identical venue towards the identical opponents final summer time to safe the Euros for Sarina Wiegman’s facet.

Now, England’s girls’s workforce has earned the prospect to emulate Geoff Hurst’s exploits on the best stage of all after they tackle Spain within the World Cup ultimate at Stadium Australia in Sydney on Sunday morning.

Whereas the Three Lions have come near glory within the interim – sometimes struggling misfortune, sometimes letting themselves down badly – Wiegman’s Lionesses have introduced nothing however pleasure since she took over as supervisor in September 2021, their achievements on the pitch doing the profile of the ladies’s sport the facility of good off it.

Whereas England breezed their option to the trophy a yr in the past, taking part in free-flowing soccer with a settled first-team lineup, they’ve needed to present one other facet to themselves in Australia and New Zealand, digging deep to grind out wins over opponents within the group stage like Haiti and Denmark and discovering methods to win towards Nigeria, Colombia and Australia within the knockouts with out at all times being at their greatest.

There have been accidents too – to Leah Williamson and Beth Mead earlier than the event started and to Kiera Walsh throughout it – and self-inflicted setbacks like star winger Lauren James’s naive pink card within the spherical of 16, incomes her a really avoidable two-match suspension.

There isn’t any query the Lionesses have every little thing they should triumph on Sunday, nevertheless, as long as they keep centered, stay true to themselves – and recall a number of well timed warnings from history.

Right here’s a fast look again at England’s greatest event disappointments between 1967 and 2021, ought to Sarina Wiegman’s facet require any additional motivation forward of the massive one.

World Cup 1990 semi-final

One of probably the most storied World Cups of current instances, Italia 90 will eternally reside on in English nightmares, with Gazza’s tears as unforgettable as Luciano Pavarotti straining on the cummerbund to belt out “Nessun Dorma”.

After 20 years of worldwide underachievement, England had emerged from the group stage to see off Belgium and Cameroon and arrange a mouth-watering semi with outdated rivals Germany on the Stadio delle Alpi in Turin.

On the night time, Bobby Robson’s workforce performed out a torrid 1-1 draw and an especially tense, goalless interval of extra-time earlier than inevitably going through a penalty shoot-out.

A dejected Stuart Pearce walks away after lacking his penalty in the course of the 1990 World Cup semi-fina towards Germany in Turin


Gary Lineker, Peter Beardsley and David Platt all transformed from the spot however the often impeccable Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle couldn’t on a night as emotional and operatic as its soundtrack that will be relived in agony for a few years to return.

Euro 1996 semi-final

Whereas there was a lot to relish concerning the first worldwide soccer event to be held on English soil since 1966, with the nation united by Frank Skinner and David Baddiel’s immortal anthem “Three Lions”, all of it led to grimly acquainted circumstances below Terry Venables.

Paul Gascoigne’s magnificent strike towards Scotland, an uncharacteristically medical 4-1 trouncing of the Netherlands courtesy of Alan Shearer and Teddy Sheringham and Pearce’s livid redemption from the penalty spot towards Spain had introduced real perception that victory was in sight earlier than Germany reared their ugly head once more, forcing penalties after one other 1-1 draw.

This time, a sure Gareth Southgate was the unfortunate man from the spot.

World Cup 1998 spherical of 16

It was penalties but once more that did for Glenn Hoddle’s England at France 98, this time towards Argentina after a dramatic 2-2 draw that had seen a younger Michael Owen break free to attain a career-defining marvel aim and David Beckham despatched off for a petulant kick out at Diego Simeone (a foul not dissimilar to Lauren James’s towards Nigeria).

David Beckham is dimissed towards Argentina at France 98


Paul Ince and David Batty missed the essential kicks in Saint-Etienne however the shame was Beckham’s, who was hounded by opposition followers when he returned to motion for Manchester United a month later and was solely belatedly forgiven.

World Cup 2002 quarter-finals

4 years later, in Japan and South Korea, the Three Lions had emerged impressively from a difficult group and crushed Denmark 3-0 within the spherical of 16 earlier than arising towards eventual winners Brazil within the quarters.

Having taken the lead via Owen, England ended up happening 2-1 to objectives from Ronaldinho and Rivaldo in what was a fairly classic South American facet, additionally together with the likes of Cafu, Roberto Carlos and Golden Boot winner Ronaldo, O Fenomeno himself, again with some extent to show.

The completely filthy lob Ronaldinho drifted over David Seaman for the equaliser in Shizuoka was very like the aim Colombia’s Leicy Santos scored towards Mary Earps within the quarters of the present event final weekend.

World Cup 2018 semi-final

After a string of disappointing tournaments – ending with losses to Portugal in 2006, to Germany in 2010 (with the assistance of a minimum of one dodgy resolution to disclaim Frank Lampard a wonderfully legitimate aim) and a failure to even escape their group in 2014 – new supervisor Gareth Southgate discovered private redemption and impressed an unlikely run on M&S waistcoats in Russia 5 years in the past.

After a workmanlike development via the teams, England noticed off Colombia earlier than pleasure actually reached fever pitch after they beat Sweden 2-0 within the quarters, inspiring a minimum of one set of overly-refreshed patriots to smash up a department of Ikea in euphoria.

England’s gamers have fun with Kieran Tripper after his wonderful early freekick towards Croatia


Regardless of taking an early lead within the semi-finals because of Kieran Trippier, England have been regularly worn down by an excellent Croatian facet orchestrated by Luka Modric, conceding first an equaliser to Ivan Perisic after which the winner to Mario Manzukic in extra-time.

Soccer didn’t come house in any case however, only for a second, it had felt like its return was written within the stars.

Women’s World Cup 2019 semi-final

Only a yr later, the identical destiny struck the Lionesses in France when their spectacular run to the semis was ended by the reigning champions, the US Women’s Nationwide Staff, led by Alex Morgan and a very imperious Megan Rapinoe, who discovered time to have a blazing row with Donald Trump along with scoring within the ultimate and selecting up each the Golden Boot and Golden Ball.

Christen Press gave the Individuals an early lead within the semi earlier than Ellen White pulled it degree, just for Morgan to internet the winner and provoke the gang with a mocking tea-sipping celebration that she later insisted had been misinterpreted.

Euro 2020 ultimate

This one remains to be somewhat uncooked. Southgate’s males had emerged, not particularly excitingly, from the teams of this Covid-delayed event with two wins and a draw – scoring solely twice however retaining three clear sheets – earlier than beating Germany, Ukraine and Denmark to arrange an encounter with Italy at Wembley on a very rowdy summer time Sunday night.

Once more taking an early lead, as that they had towards Croatia in Moscow – this time courtesy of Luke Shaw – England’s nerves acquired the higher of them and so they allowed the Italians again into it. The Azzurri duly equalised via Leonardo Bonnucci, dragging the match to additional time after which penalties.

Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bakayo Saka all missed their kicks, inspiring some completely appalling racist abuse on social media afterwards however then a really heartening outcry of public help in response.

Gareth Southgate consoles Jadon Sancho after his penalty miss towards Italy


If there’s a lesson in all of this for the Lionesses, it’s that their very own penalty file of late is quite higher than that of their male counterparts.

Earps beautifully stored out the Brazilians to win the Finalissima in April this yr as England gained the shootout 4-2 and Bethany England, Rachel Daly, Alex Greenwood and the mighty Chloe Kelly (at all times a participant for the massive event) all hammered house their spot-kicks within the current victory over Nigeria, suggesting they could be much less inclined to crack below stress.

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