England keeper Carly Telford is writing a monthly column for The Offside Rule Podcast throughout the 2015/16 football season.
In her latest column, the Notts County No.1 relives the highs and lows of her World Cup journey, taking us behind the scenes of their semi-final heartbreak to lifting themselves to become the third best team on the planet – and she also looks forward to Thursday’s grudge rematch with Germany.
May | World Cup squad announcement
That feeling will never change whether you’ve got 100 caps or one. You think about every possibility in your head, about which players may have performed better than you and those you think you’ve done better than. You go into it feeling very nervous, feeling very sick because you don’t want that journey to end right there.
The worst thing is you’ve got everyone around you saying, ‘you’ll get in, you’ve played well’ and they start putting you against your friends; ‘you’ve performed better than her, you’ll definitely be in’. In all honesty, you don’t want to talk about it but you get drawn in. The BBC had experts on talking about who should be in the squad and you start thinking about what they’re saying about you; the mind games are massive.
There were some shocks, I think. Some people would have picked other players and there was a lot of talk about players Mark Sampson left out but you have to look back and say it was the right decision, you can’t argue with that. But the whole time around the announcement is daunting, you don’t want to get injured or anything like that. Steph Houghton got picked in 2011 and then did her ankle jumping a hurdle during the training camp, and that was it over for her. You’ve still got three weeks to look after yourself after you’re picked.
The media day was huge, you walk in and onto the stage and there are all these people, the room was completely filled but that’s when you realise you’ve made the team and you’re going to Canada. You’ll play on the biggest stage, the biggest stadiums and see some fantastic parts of the world. It was fantastic.
June | Competing in Canada
You always think ‘we want to win this’ but if you don’t go out there and succeed you put pressure on yourselves. Defeat in the first game had people asking questions about Mark but there was a purpose to everything he did. I guess we didn’t see it as players straight away, maybe we had worries about how we were playing or not scoring enough goals.
But that purpose became clearer with every game; why we defended the way we did, why we chose to counter attack. People don’t appreciate that when they’re not in that environment, they can’t understand why you don’t play a certain way. But when you’re a good coach like Mark, you’re not naïve enough to think you can only play one way and I think we’re beginning to understand that as we go through this process with him. Mark’s only been with us 18 months and to make us into the third best team in the world was incredible – and you only wonder what else he can do in another 18 months.
I like to think we’ll get more attacking; we won’t just sit back and defend because we are a good football side, but, right now, it’s been about getting the best out of what we’ve got. We can’t suddenly go out and play like Brazil because that’s a philosophy that’s been installed into them forever and we don’t have that.
Mark knows exactly what he wants to achieve, I’m sure he has a list of things written down that he ticks off after every game, every session, every meeting; he’s very logical in what he does. I’m sure he would have put down that he wanted to win that World Cup. I think by the way he spoke to us he definitely thought he could and he made us believe we could, so credit to him for his beliefs and what he achieved with us.
July 1st | Japan vs EnglandEmbed from Getty Images
I’m probably the worst person to talk about what it was like immediately after the game because I got dragged off for drug testing with Lucy Bronze as soon as the game ended. The girls said it was very quiet in the changing room, nobody really spoke. You’re meant to go through the media zone after a game, it’s a Fifa rule, but Laura Bassett was told she didn’t have to speak to anyone. Someone put a jacket over her, got her out of the back door and put her in a car. One of the most iconic moments in World Cup history had occurred and the last thing that poor girl needed was to talk to the media – it was a bit ridiculous from Fifa.
Lucy and I were left sitting in drug testing just looking at each other, neither of us could really believe what had happened. It happened so quick, we were sat on the touchline getting drinks ready for the girls before extra-time and then it’s just over, just like that. I think everyone was in shock. Gradually people just started getting ready on their own, we didn’t have any meetings and we left for the night to see friends and family. We came in the next day and got on with it; we had another game to focus on and we knew we still had a chance to go out against Germany and make history.
But on the sideline it was a horrible feeling. You don’t know if it’s gone in or what’s happening and then it dawned on us when we saw Steph sink to the floor . . . You think it can’t possibly end like that. We had to rally the girls but it was the hardest thing ever. Fara grabbed the ball but the emotions are so high at that point there was little chance we could make something happen after that – nobody at that time could have been in a good enough place to get back in the game.
It was a weird atmosphere after the game, it was just shock; the crowd were shocked, Japan were shocked. It was a really odd way to end it. As Jo Potter was trying to walk Bass off the pitch there was a cameraman trying to get in her face and Katie Chapman just went over, whacked the camera and told him in no uncertain terms to stop. That really showed how much we wanted to protect each other.
The drug test came at the worst time. For semi-finals and finals, they now take blood tests instead of urine tests so we were there for ages. Bass is my room-mate, so I wanted to be there for her, neither me nor Lucy like needles and we were there for ages as it was the first time Fifa had done it. They were talking everyone through the procedures and we had to wait for Japan to go first, which is just what we wanted after what we’d been through.
It wasn’t ideal; Lucy managed to get on the bus back and the poor girl got tested again in the final and missed all the celebrations. I ended up grabbing a taxi with Mark and one or two others back to the hotel. The more I thought about seeing Bass the more upset I got, she’s one of my best friends, but her boyfriend was with her too. You’ve got to give people space at that time as well as it’s a difficult thing to go through.
July 4th | Germany 0 England 1 (aet), third place play-off
After the Germany game at the end of 2014, we knew we were nowhere near the level we had to be in six months time but we looked at it closely and realised we conceded off a couple of set-pieces and an own-goal. We weren’t conceding hundreds of chances so we looked at what we could do to combat that and Mark went through four or five different formations we could play to stop them.
We didn’t want that to happen again with the whole world watching, so to finally beat the Germans after so long was fantastic and it did change things. People were knocking on Mark’s door asking for friendlies and what had changed but in Mark’s mind nothing had changed, it had all played out as he wanted it to apart from the Japan game.
We did what the English are best known for in Canada: we were defiant. We knew we had nothing to lose and everything to gain, and we grabbed that with everything we could. You only had to see the joy and the relief after the game to know what it meant. I think the media would have gone back and looked at the Japan game a lot more had we not have beaten Germany. I remember getting back to the hotel and just hugging Bass; it was an amazing time and we have no regrets about the way it turned out in the end. We all became a lot closer on that trip and it was the perfect way to end it.
November 26 | The rematch
What a way to go out in 2015 if we can do it again in Germany. It would be fantastic to go out there and win. I’ve no doubt there will be a good crowd at the friendly, coming to see if they can exact a little bit of revenge on us after what happened in Canada.
But we’re no mugs now. We’re not going over there to get beat, we’re there to send another message to the world that we’re serious and that we are potentially one of the best teams in the world. After that I’ve got a nice holiday planned in Australia to see Jennifer Beattie and one or two others for three weeks in December. Hopefully I’ll get over to Perth to see people I got to know when I played there but I’m just looking forward to having some time to relax after a crazy 2015.
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