England defender Lucy Bronze driven by Japan disappointment

Lucy Bronze says the disappointment of England’s semi-final defeat to Japan at the 2015 Women’s World Cup has been a driving force for them ever since.

The Lionesses, making their first appearance in the last four of the competition, lost the contest in Edmonton 2-1 after Laura Bassett scored a stoppage-time own-goal.

They subsequently took third place by beating Germany, and went on to reach the semi-finals of Euro 2017.

After Phil Neville succeeded Mark Sampson as boss, England then won the four-team SheBelieves Cup for the first time this year – finishing their campaign with a 3-0 win against Japan.

The sides meet again in Nice on Wednesday in their final World Cup Group D match, with Neville’s side having already secured progress to the last 16 after beating Scotland 2-1 and Argentina 1-0, and looking to cement top spot.

Right-back Bronze, who on the day of the 2015 game was suffering with what she believes was food poisoning and vomited before it, at half-time and after she came off with around 15 minutes left, said of that match: “It’s always in the back of your head.

“But you do get over it. I think that’s what the Germany game was for us back then – it was putting Japan to bed and getting a bronze medal, getting back to winning, and reaching third place, which we had never done before in our history.

Head coach Phil Neville led England to SheBelieves glory
Head coach Phil Neville led England to SheBelieves glory (John Walton/PA)

“We remember all the painful games, you remember all the big games that you’ve lost, but that memory has long been put behind us. We’ve played Japan since then, beat them, and beat them well. We move on, move forward.

“You remember the disappointment but ultimately it just drives you towards the next thing.”

Bronze has emphasised that England are now “more prepared” as they bid for glory at a tournament that has semi-finals and a final at Groupama Stadium – the ground where her club Lyon Feminin play some of their home matches.

The 27-year-old said: “Although it was a disappointing game, it was one where we had to go through that disappointment.

“I still remember it as being one of the best we played in that World Cup. We actually deserved to win – maybe in some of the others we had rode our luck a little bit.

“Japan are a great team, they’ve been to the World Cup final twice (they won the 2011 tournament), and maybe we weren’t quite ready to reach the World Cup final. Now we are more prepared.

“Back then it was so new to us, even getting to that semi-final was huge.”

Bronze says that with what she was enduring that day in terms of illness, her memories of the game are actually not the clearest.

“Funnily enough I was really ill that day in the semi-final. I don’t remember a lot,” said Bronze, who had scored in the last-16 win against Norway and quarter-final victory over hosts Canada.

“I was throwing up a lot. I was throwing up pretty much all day. I think it was food poisoning. That’s why I was subbed. It was very blurry.

“It wasn’t the sickness that stopped me, it was cramps. My body just went into shock.

“I was sick on the bench at half-time, before the game and when I came off. I don’t know what it was that I ate. I’ve never had it before and I’ve never had it since.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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