In the first of a weekly series on women’s football Suzanne Wrack explains the significance for the English game of possible success in the Netherlands
The 2015 Women’s World Cup felt like a turning point. Women’s football was suddenly in the spotlight. As England battled back from defeat by France in their first group game to reach the semi-finals, the country rallied behind them. Millions tuned in to watch.
Not saddled with the weight of expectation, Mark Sampson’s side beat the hosts, Canada, and European champions, Germany, on their way to a historic third-place finish. Only an agonising Laura Bassett own-goal in the second minute of extra-time against Japan ended the Lionesses’ chance of a place in the final. But they had exceeded all expectations, challenged perceptions and changed attitudes.