Women’s World Cup 2019: England not afraid of reigning champions USA in semi-final, says Nikita Parris

England meet the US at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais on Tuesday night, knowing that the greatest win in the history of the women’s national team will set up a first World Cup final appearance

Mark Critchley
Tuesday 02 July 2019 07:15
England's Beth Mead looks ahead to World Cup semi-final

Nikita Parris has warned the United States that nobody in international women’s football is afraid of them, least of all her and her England team-mates ahead of their Women’s World Cup semi-final.

England meet the US at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais on Tuesday night, knowing that the greatest win in the history of the women’s national team will set up a first World Cup final appearance.

Only the reigning world champions, No 1 ranked side and three-time winners stand in their way, but there is a fearlessness among Parris and her team-mates, as well as confidence that they can beat any opponent.

The mantra in the England camp is “be bad-ass women”, coined by defender Leah Williamson long before this World Cup but only revealed publicly by head coach Phil Neville after Thursday’s win over Norway.

The US have arguably been the ‘baddest’ in women’s football over the years – certainly, they have been the sport’s most driven, focused and unrelenting force, uncompromising in their pursuit of success.

But Parris believes the Americans are no longer alone in that approach. She asked on Monday: “Why shouldn’t we think we can’t be badder than them when we went to the She Believes and we won it? And we went toe to toe with them? You know?

“We beat American in the past. We beat them 1-0 under Mark [Sampson]’s reign [in 2017]. Why shouldn’t we think we can beat them? Why do we have to come to this tournament semi-final and think: ‘Oh, it’s America?’

“Nobody fears America. Nobody fears Germany. Nobody fears England. They know that on the day, no matter who you are, if you perform and get the best out of each and every player on the field of play, you’ll win the game. I don’t fear America and I don’t think my teammates do.”

Nikita Parris holds no fears ahead of the semi-finals (Getty)

Parris retains a great deal of respect for the likes of Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe and their forebears, though she believes it is time for England to set the standard, inspiring young girls around the world.

“You have to respect America as being the pioneers of the game,” she said. “What they’ve done for the game for women’s football across the world is massive. It’s brought about that people respect the game.

“What I understand is you don’t just want to come to a World Cup, make an impact and be forgotten. You don’t want to be forgotten. Leah is talking about making history – giving young girls a dream of not just reaching the top but making their mark on the top.”

And yet, Parris claims to be blissfully unaware of her burgeoning public profile back at home, and her growing status as a role model to young players. “I call my mum and she says: ‘Oh, youse are all over the TV.’

For now, her focus remains solely on the task at hand but she is proud of the example her and her team-mates are setting.

“Long may that continue,” she said. “Women’s football is one the rise and I hope young girls across the world – never mind just in England – are inspired to take up the sport, any sport in general, whatever they fall in love with.

“That’s all we’ve done. We’ve taken up a sport and fallen in love with it and worked hard to make sure we got to the top. Any young girl across the world can do that.”

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