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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 September 2007, 17:26 GMT 18:26 UK
England's emotional exit
BBC presenter Jake Humphrey
By Jake Humphrey
BBC Sport presenter

England captain Faye White
England captain Faye White could not hide her disappointment
The day had started so well.

On Friday night we were out in one of Tianjin's many dancing establishments, enjoying a Phillipino singer who bore a passing resemblance to Ronaldinho and watching Rob the soundman have a night he'll never forget.

After a late night, being late to rise and tucking into a hearty bacon and egg breakfast I was ready - to go shopping for the England players!

More about the shopping in a moment, first let's talk football.

We all arrived en-masse at the state of the art Tianjin Olympic Centre Stadium at 5pm local time so we could watch the Germany v North Korea game and prepare ourselves for the biggest match in Women's football this country has ever seen.

We were all unusually quiet (even Guy Mowbray) and all knew the next few hours could be special - result permitting.

The players had been told the game was live on BBC One, we knew the nation were taking an interest in the tournament and as kick-off approached the nerves started to kick in.

I think I was even more nervous because we had been sharing the players' hotel for the past two days.

606: DEBATE
JwB
And whether it was a quick chat by the lifts, sharing a joke in the restaurant or even just exchanging a nod as we walked past each other, before long you start to get to know the players and feel very much part of the whole 'England circus'.

They're no longer names and numbers but people who tell you about their day, their kids and how they're feeling.

For this reason I was willing on the players even more than I do when watching my beloved Norwich City.

England were dominant at the back, competitive in midfield, only their Achilles heal of a toothless attack was holding them back.

Cue Faye White's nasty smack on the nose - and the game changed.

So much confidence and assurance is gleaned by the other players when Faye is on form and feeling good, when she took that blow it was as if the whole team had felt Abi Wambach's mallet-like forearm.

To be honest, the USA, a team who live, train and play together for the best part of nine months a year, were a better side.

You'd expect it.

But that doesn't make defeat any easier to take and watching the girls swallow back their tears and in some cases seeing them flow freely was quite moving.

To interview Faye directly after the game was in some ways an uncomfortable experience.

A woman who earns next to nothing from football but gives it her life had just had her dreams shattered.

As much as the journalist in me wanted to know her thoughts, feelings and what this tournament means for the nation's female footballing future, I also wanted to just give her a big hug.

The team has done England proud, they are a great bunch of players and a pleasure to be around.

The FA and the country should be proud and I hope they get the credit they deserve. Even so, they do like a spot of shopping and this morning it was Matt the producer, Lucy Ward and yours truly who had to do their shopping for them!

There is a row of streets specialising in Chinese arts and crafts here in Tianjin and this morning we were buying presents for all the players and ordering customised wall-hangings of the kids of Mary Phillip, Katie Chapman and nieces and nephews of most of the other players.

If a lucky recipient is reading this. It was our pleasure (I picked up a bargain for myself too).

Right, better be off it's late here and Matt has just poured a bottle of iced water all over me (he claims by accident).

This is my last web diary entry as I'm flying home on Monday to host the semi-final games.

Thanks for reading, thanks for watching the games and let's keep the momentum going - Euro 2009 qualifying continues for Hope's players.



SEE ALSO
USA-England as it happened
22 Sep 07 |  Women
USA-England player ratings
22 Sep 07 |  Women
USA v England photos
22 Sep 07 |  Football


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