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.
“I can’t plan past having a baby – getting used to motherhood is the main priority,” she said recently, while keeping the door open for a future return to playing. “I was fortunate enough to train with England from under-16 level all the way through the age-groups to the seniors. I’ve been to five international tournaments, so I look back and I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved.
"[The own goal] does still hurt. The men's [World Cup] this summer and going on to next summer brings back memories, it always does. I just find peace with those situations - I fully own it, I'm responsible for it, but you get perspective and it's a part of our history. We have to be proud of where we've come from and what we've done. Some things happen for a reason and I certainly haven't let that moment define me."
Did you know? As Bassett’s winner understandably hogged the headlines, it’s often forgotten that there was another goalscorer for Japan that day in Edmonton. Nadeshiko legend Aya Miyama was the player who broke the deadlock, and her autographed shirt from this memorable semi-final is displayed at the FIFA World Football Museum in Zurich.