England booked their place at the World Cup in front of a record crowd for a women's match in Wales, and boss Mark Sampson said the victory was for their faithful supporters.
A total of 3,581 – many of whom cheering on the Lionesses - were at Cardiff City Stadium to see England record a 4-0 victory over Wales and book their place at the World Cup finals in Canada.
“The supporters since I’ve come in have been absolutely incredible,” he said.
Wales 0-4 England
FIFA Women's World Cup 2015
Group 6 qualifier
Thursday 21 August 2014
Cardiff City Stadium
England qualify for the World Cup
“To see that number here tonight and to get behind the girls and cheers them over the line, shows just what this team means to the general public and the type of interest that’s going on.
“I speak for the team when I say a huge thank you to all the supporters for the support they’ve given the us – it certainly means a lot and when the players see that level of support in the stand and the messages they get on social media, then it’s a great boost for the team and a big inspiration to us.
“For us now it’s about trying to inspire them, and give them something to believe in. And when we go to that tournament hopefully many of them can join us there and we can really give them something to shout about.”
Sampson’s side now face a final group game in Montenegro on 17 September.
Although the result may be redundant, the head coach was adamant that once tonight is out of the way, minds must quickly turn to World Cup preparation.
“We’ve still got to focus day-to-day. We know what the end dream is. We’re going to celebrate tonight because it’s a long time until 5 July and until we hope to celebrate again.
“I speak for the team when I say a huge thank you to all the supporters for the support they’ve given the team”
“So we’ll enjoy tonight and this achievement but tomorrow morning we’ll get our heads back on the game and make sure that between now and that World Cup final, every day we give our best to give ourselves the best chance in that tournament.”
The Montenegro game will also hold a special significance for Sampson’s side as they look to end the qualification phase with a perfect ten wins out of ten.
And the England boss took time to praise his predecessor Brent Hills, who lead the Lionesses in a caretaker capacity in the opening four games.
“To get a 100 per cent record at this stage of the competition and to score the amount of goals we have and only conceded one is an incredible achievement by everyone,” he continued.
“I’m really proud of the players – the way they’ve got behind me since I’ve come on board and produced the performances that they have.
"Let’s not forget the role that Brent played in all of this and the start he made to get us towards this 100 per cent record.
“So all in all it’s been a huge team effort and to get us to Canada with a game to spare and now we can look forward to the next step of our journey which is going to be the World Cup.”