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England stars started at Millwall Lionesses

1 July 2015

Rafferty and Chapman key to World Cup success

England's Women football team have grabbed the nation's attention and admiration with a history-making run right the way through to a first-ever World Cup Semi-Final.

Reigning World Champions Japan now stand between Mark Sampson's Lionesses and a place in the Final against the USA when the two sides meet in Edmonton (kick-off midnight).

Supporters of the Lionesses have been burning the midnight oil as England have beaten Mexico (2-1), Colombia (2-1), Norway (2-1) and most recently, host nation Canada (2-1) in the Quarter Finals, to get within touching distance of the Final.

Two players who have been key to the Lionesses' success thus far are Claire Rafferty and Katie Chapman, both of whom kicked off their footballing careers with Millwall.

Former Millwall Lionesses captain and England international Pru Buckley, now Head of Ticketing at The Den, has been delighted with her former team-mates success.

Speaking ahead of tonight's big game, Pru, who made over 500 appearances for the Lionesses and won three international caps, told "You can see both Claire and Katie have got a real Millwall attitude ingrained in them.

"Claire started here at the Girls Centre of Excellence and was so good that she was a first-team regular long before her 16th birthday.

"I remember playing alongside her and she was as quiet as a mouse to start with, but you could see she was talented though, with a great left foot.

"She has shown real character to have come back three times from serious cruciate ligament injuries and it's fantastic to see her make it to the World Cup stage having started out here at Millwall.

"Katie is another England Lionesses who started out as a Millwall Lioness, and is a Bermondsey girl.

"Like Claire, Katie's quality was evident at a young age and at the age of 14 she was in the same senior team as me when Millwall won the League and FA Cup double in 1996/97."

Both left-back Claire and midfielder Katie look set to feature again for England tonight and with the nation as a whole rooting for the team, never has there been such an opportunity for the Women's game to kick on.

"It's fantastic how the team have really made people sit up and take notice of Women's football," added Pru. "Whatever the result, it would be great to see the impetus and enthusiasm continue here and push Women's football forward.

"It is, however, important not to compare it to the men's game, but to judge it in its own right.

"There has been huge progress made, and the continued success of England in this World Cup tournament reflects that.

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"Everyone here at the club will be right behind England tonight. Let's hope that Millwall spirit shines through again."

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