A crushed and tear-stained Ellen White said she “would have given up every single goal to win a gold medal”, after Team GB suffered a bruising 4-3 defeat by Australia in extra time of their Olympic semi-final.
Team GB had come from behind to lead until an 89th-minute goal from the Chelsea striker Sam Kerr forced another 30 minutes.
“I’m devastated,” said White, who scored six goals across the tournament and three in the defeat by the Matildas. “I really thought we could win the game. I thought we played some amazing football. I really thought that with this group of players we would go on to win gold. So yeah, absolutely heartbroken, but I couldn’t be more proud of the team and the staff.”
Cancellations forced by the pandemic meant that Team GB played one warm-up game, once they were in Japan for the Games. Hege Riise had been given the manager’s job only in March after the former England head coach Phil Neville left for Inter Miami.
“We haven’t been together very long but the relationships, the connections, the family-like feel, it’s been amazing,” said White. “It’s a horrible feeling but I wish Australia the best of luck in the next round [against Sweden].”
Performances were strong despite the difficult buildup. “We were so close,” White said. “That’s why we love and hate football at the same time. I can’t fault anybody; we gave absolutely everything in 90 minutes and then extra time.”
After her two goals had put Team GB in front White said they felt “good” but she added: “It’s just those fine margins in football. We’ll have to regroup as players and go again.”
How do you do that? “That’s a good question. How do you do that?” she reflected. “I’ll be laying on the sofa for a few weeks. It’s hard. I don’t know how many times you can get knocked down and get back up again but I love football.
“It’s hard, it’s challenging but it’s the love for the game and the want and the will to win trophies, the want to be the best player and the want to play international tournaments and play for your club. I’m not saying it’s a walk in the park because everyone is heartbroken in there but I know everyone will get back up again and strive to be better.”