When English agony brought Japanese joy

  • Laura Bassett’s stoppage-time own goal ended England’s 2015 hopes
  • The devastated defender recovered to help the Lionesses claim bronze
  • Bassett is now preparing for the birth of her first child

It might be the beautiful game, but football can be cruel too. If in any doubt, just think back to the semi-finals of the last FIFA Women’s World Cup™. Or, better still, ask Laura Bassett.

As you might remember, the England defender’s 92nd-minute winner ensured that her side’s last-four tie was settled in the most dramatic manner possible. But what made the goal so unforgettable, of course, was that it came at the wrong end.

This was all the crueller because Bassett, then 32 and an erstwhile low-profile player, had been outstanding in the Lionesses’ run to the semi-finals. But as her torrent of post-match tears reflected, she realised immediately how her World Cup would be remembered.

“It will always be, ‘In 2015, England crashed out because of Laura Bassett’s own goal’, so I have to take responsibility for that,” she lamented later. “It will always be me and my name.”

Bassett went on recover from being “heartbroken, devastated, just uncontrollable” to help England clinch bronze with a clean sheet against Germany, earning richly deserved praise in the process. But four years on, she isn’t eyeing a return to the World Cup. Instead, her focus is on the impending arrival of her first child, due next month.