Women's World Cup: England ignoring media - Williams

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport in Vancouver
Fara Williams
Fara Williams scored a penalty in England's group win over Colombia
England v Canada
Date: 28 June Kick-off: 00:30 BST. Live on BBC One, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Sport website, mobiles and sport app

Midfielder Fara Williams says lessons learned from England's disastrous Euro 2013 campaign have played a part in their success at the Women's World Cup.

The Lionesses went out at the group stage in Sweden two years ago amidst media criticism and a fractured squad.

But Williams, 31, says learning to trust themselves has helped England to a quarter-final with hosts Canada.

"Two years ago we listened too much to the media, there was too much criticism," said the 144-cap veteran.

"If we listened to everyone outside our circle there's going to be a problem," added England's record caps holder.

"We've had criticism [this time] but I think this is the best England team you've seen for a long while.

"Whoever is on the pitch everyone on the bench is right behind us. It's such a nice thing to have all 23 people together and behind each other.

"It just shows what great shape we're in. The spirit is fantastic."

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At Euro 2013, England unravelled after losing their opening game against Spain, and although they managed a draw with Russia they were thrashed 3-0 by France.

Behind the scenes the atmosphere in the camp was fragile as fringe players were not given a chance by previous boss Hope Powell, despite poor performances from those players on the pitch.

But two years on, head coach Mark Sampson has used all 20 outfield players and they have responded to their opening 1-0 defeat by France with 2-1 victories over Mexico and Colombia in the group stages, before beating Norway by the same scoreline in the last 16.

That second-round victory is the first time England have won a World Cup knockout game and Sampson's side are seeking to reach uncharted territory by making the semi-finals.

Midfielder Williams said she was "motivated" by the prospect of playing Canada in front of 54,000 fans in Vancouver on Sunday at 00:30 BST.

And after scoring a penalty in England's win over Colombia, she is the only English women's footballer to score in three consecutive World Cups, matching the feat of former England international David Beckham in the men's equivalent.

England defender Lucy Bronze, who scored the winner against Norway, said Williams' experience had been crucial to the team's success so far.

"She's definitely our best player," Bronze, 23, said. "She's the anchor of our team, the rock, the one that pulls the strings.

"Her experience helps, her experience of having been in all those past camps shows - she's the only England player to have scored in three World Cups. When she's on the pitch she's totally switched on."