A dejected Jordan Nobbs and Fran Kirby of England Women with their team mates after the UEFA Women's Euro 2017 semi final match between Netherlands and England at De Grolsch Veste Stadium on August 3, 2017 in Enschede, Netherlands
Mark Sampson spoke of his pride of his England team after they were knocked out of the Women’s Euros by hosts Netherlands on Thursday.
Following their 3-0 defeat in the semi-finals by a dominant Netherlands team, Sampson said: “I’ve got 24 devastated women in the changing room. They’ve shed a load of tears along with the staff, but I’m incredibly proud of them.”
It was a bitter pill to swallow after an impressive campaign that saw England beat Scotland 6-0 in their opening match, with Arsenal’s Jodie Taylor scoring the first ever hat trick by an England women’s player in a major international tournament.
Though Taylor went on to score five goals in the tournament before England’ departure, she was unable to come up with the goods on Thursday.
Speaking to Channel 4 after the match, she said: "It just wasn't our night - I don't think things went our way. They're a good team. It's disappointing but things didn't fall our way tonight. It wasn't meant to be."
Echoing Taylor’s sentiment, Sampson said: "Sometimes things don't go your way and in a game like tonight it's a real bitter pill to swallow because the players have given so much.”
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He added: "We knew it was always going to be difficult - the host nation, big crowd, incredibly motivated, excellent team. Congratulations to them. They've deserved their place in the final.”
Despite the disappointment of England not reaching the final, the tournament has been hailed as a huge success for women’s football, with record numbers tuning in to watch the match.
Terrestrial television broadcaster Channel 4 reported a peak audience of 3.3 million for England’s quarter-final match against France, and expected higher numbers still for the semi-final.
Sampson said: "As much as they [Netherlands] made it difficult for us, the supporters made it a special night for women's football. If there can be more games like that the women's game will be in a fantastic place moving forward."