Women's Euro 2017: England take 'huge inspiration' from national support

Mark Sampson
Mark Sampson (right) took over from Hope Powell as England manager in 2013
Women's Euro 2017 semi-final: Netherlands v England
Venue: Enschede, the Netherlands Date: Thursday, 3 August Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 live and online; live text commentary on the BBC Sport website; live on Channel Four

England's Euro 2017 squad will take "major confidence" from fans believing they can win the competition, says coach Mark Sampson.

Their 1-0 victory over France on Sunday was watched by 3.3 million people, making it the biggest peak TV audience for women's football.

Sampson's side will next face the Netherlands in Thursday's semi-final.

"The support is a huge inspiration to the players and a massive driver for them," Sampson told BBC Radio 5 live.

The 34-year-old is the first England manager since Sir Alf Ramsey in 1968 to reach consecutive semi-finals at major tournaments.

"It's probably been a long time that there was a genuine belief that an English team can go and win a major championship," he said.

"We're very proud that some of the English public believe this team can go on and win. We take immense pride from that and a major sense of confidence."

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It has been a successful year for women's sport in England, with the national cricket team winning the World Cup and British number one Johanna Konta reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals.

England have reached the last four at the Euros on four previous occasions, most recently in 2009, when they were beaten by Germany in the final.

Home favourites the Netherlands have had vocal support throughout the competition, with all of their group games sold out and a record 21,731 fans watching their opening game.

"These are the types of occasions the players want to be involved in," Sampson added.

"When they were younger they never played in front of bigger crowds. Now, we've got the potential to play in games where there's lots of people in the stands and watching at home.

"All that hard work we put in wouldn't be recognised or rewarded if we didn't enjoy these moments."

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