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England captain proud of World Cup team after critics ‘wrote us off’

(Naomi Baker/The FA via Getty Images)

Millie Bright is proud of what England accomplished in this year’s World Cup.

A plethora of injuries to some of the team’s biggest stars – including Leah Williamson and Beth Mead – meant questions surrounded the Lionesses. But they never stopped believing in themselves, even throughout their 1-0 loss to Spain in the championship match.

“Yeah it’s hard but it’s football. It can go either way,” Bright said after the match. “A lot of emotion but, really proud of the team. To come this far, to play in the World Cup final, not many players do that so really proud.

“At first you feel you’ve failed, we’ve not won. But to still come second, I think in a couple of weeks when it settles in we’ll be really proud. This is not it from us. We’ll bounce back, I’m sure. But for now it’s hard to take.”

Ultimately, Spain proved too difficult to overtake after jumping out to a first-half lead. Momentum shifts in the second half led to some chances for the Lionesses, but they couldn’t capitalize.

Even still, they fought to the end. And even keeping Spain to one goal is an accomplishment.

England head coach Sarina Wiegman didn’t have much to say to the team in the moment, but as Bright noted, there’s not much to say. While the players feel as if they’ve “failed,” Bright said, a time will come when it sits a little bit sweeter than it does now.

The achievement of reaching the championship match is “massive” in and of itself, Bright said. It was England’s first World Cup final after having lost in the semifinals in each of the previous tournaments. The Lionesses now have won their first World Cup silver medals after finishing as Euros champions last year.

But for Bright, the trip to the final meant a little extra, as well.

“I think we had a lot of critics at the start of the tournament,” she said. “Probably a lot that wrote us off and didn’t think that we’d get here. We’ll bounce back. We’ve been through numerous challenges this tournament, on and off the pitch, and to be able to stand here today and say we’ve played in front of this incredible crowd in the final, it’s a proud moment.

“The goal is always to win. Our mentality is always to win. We’ll never stop trying to be successful and be champions. We’ll definitely bounce back.”