England’s World Cup heroics inspired by pep talk from Scotland’s Olympic gold medal rower Katherine Grainger
- England beat Norway 3-0 to reach second successive World Cup semi-final
- Neville revealed players listened to video speech from Grainger before the game
- England will face either hosts France or the USA in Lyon on Tuesday night
Phil Neville revealed his World Cup heroes were inspired after a video speech by Scotland’s Olympic gold medal rower Katherine Grainger before their quarter-final win over Norway.
Goals by Jill Scott — the quickest of the tournament — Ellen White and a rocket from Lucy Bronze secured a 3-0 win in Le Havre.
Grainger is Britain’s most decorated female Olympian of all time and ahead of Thursday’s win she helped bring the best out of her footballing counterparts from across the border.
England boss Phil Neville celebrates on touchline after the third goal on Thursday night
Neville said: ‘I want to win a World Cup. France and the US know [what we bring]. We have lost in semi-finals of the last two major tournaments. The main reason I was brought in was to get us through a semi-final. I don’t think there’s been a team who’ve played the type of football that we play.’
Bronze delivered a signature performance, striking her sublime 25-yard goal just before the hour and Neville said she was ‘the best player in the world’ and should be awarded the Ballon d’Or.
He added: ‘I played full back but never to that level.’
Neville talks to the England squad after they beat Norway to reach World Cup semi-final
Bronze set up the first goal for Scott after two minutes and six seconds and finished the job with a stellar strike from a short corner just before the hour. White became England’s all-time leading goalscorer at Women’s World Cups with her fifth at this tournament and sixth overall.
Neville said: ‘We’re having the time of our lives. It should have been four or five and we’re just where we want to be at this stage.
‘We’re not bothered who we play in the semi-final, we’re just happy to be there. The players have proved that the bigger the occasion the better they are.
England were inspired by a video speech from Olympic gold medal rower Katherine Grainger
‘We want to come home with that World Cup. We can’t hide away from the fact. Something’s happening.’
Bronze said: ‘We’ll have to raise our game against France or the USA but we know we can match up against either one of those teams. We can rest and watch the rest of the quarter-finals.’
She plays her club football with Champions League winners Lyon and added: ‘I’ve been dreaming of getting to the semi-final in Lyon. All the passion came out in that strike.
‘I was practising that one this morning. Practice makes perfect.’