Rooney and Beckham lead salute to the Lionesses

England's Lucy Bronze, left, celebrates her goal against Canada in the Women's World Cup quater-finals (Picture: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP).
England's Lucy Bronze, left, celebrates her goal against Canada in the Women's World Cup quater-finals (Picture: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP).
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England men’s captain Wayne Rooney has congratulated the women’s team after they made it to the World Cup semi-finals.

Rooney and his international team-mates were a damp squib in Brazil last year, with the team failing to make it out of the group stages after defeats to Italy and Uruguay and a draw against Costa Rica.

The women began their campaign with a loss to France but have not looked back since, beating Mexico, Colombia, Norway and hosts Canada to become the first English senior team to make a World Cup semi-final since 1990.

Rooney, a veteran of three World Cup campaigns, was among the first to congratulate the Lionesses following their 2-1 win against Canada.

“England women doing the country proud. Huge congratulations on reaching the semi-finals,” he wrote on Twitter.

Former Three Lions captain David Beckham expressed his pride at England’s progress, posting a picture of the team in a huddle on Instagram with the message: “Girls what a performance ... We are so proud of what you have achieved and the passion you have shown gives us so much pride... Our lionesses roar into the semis”.

Faye White captained England in two World Cups in 2007 and 2011, with both tournaments resulting in quarter-final exits, and she believes making the last four is a huge achievement.

“Every tournament that we played in it was always about trying to perform, trying to do our best to change people’s perceptions but also to get the recognition which the performances have deserved,” she said.

“It has been a massive ride. Everyone got behind all sports when the Olympics were staged in London and they have now in this World Cup. To get into a semi-final is a big achievement.

“We’ve gradually been rising to compete with the best teams in the world over the last few years but now we’re actually doing it on the stages and in those games that count.”

The Duke of Cambridge, president of the Football Association, also offered his congratulations to England and their quarter-final opponents.

“Congratulations to both the English and Canadian teams for such a great game in the Women’s World Cup quarter-finals,” read a statement.

“As president of the FA, I’m thrilled to see the England women progress to the semi-finals for the first time.

“This team is making history and I can’t wait to see them in action against Japan.

“I know a lot of people have been following the team’s progress and I’m sure many more will now seize the chance to support this great moment for English football.

“The Lionesses are doing their country proud.”

Men and women from all sports also took to Twitter to acknowledge the achievement.

“Just caught up on the news about the @england women. Great result. Now onto the semi-final on Wednesday! Congrats and Good Luck! #Lionesses,” tweeted England and Manchester United defender Phil Jones.

“So proud of #ENG women getting to the WWCSF! Absolutely brilliant! #Lionesses,” wrote former England and Arsenal striker Ian Wright.

“Woke up to an awesome result for @england #Lionesses over Canada!! Well done ladies!!!,” was the message from former England striker Dean Ashton.

“Just amazing....congratulations @CaseyStoney and the #lionesses. Belief in buckets with skills to match #godothis #semifinals,” was the reaction from England hockey international Alex Danson.

“Go to sleep wake up & my 2 buddies @laurabassett6 & @karenjcarney only gone & got themselves into a World Cup semi final.Cheeky. #Lionesses,” posted former heptathlete Kelly Sotherton.

“Big shout out to @england #Lionesses for getting to the semi of #FIFAWWC. Fantastic news,” added double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes.

“Well done @england women, great win yesterday looking forward to the semi,” was England Rugby World Cup winner Lewis Moody’s reaction.

England were watched by a peak audience of 1.6m viewers as they advanced to the semi-finals in the early hours of yesterday.

Peak figures of 2.3m were attained for the group matches against France and Colombia, but the kick-offs of those matches took place at much more sociable times.

England’s semi-final against Japan kicks off at midnight on Wednesday in Edmonton (5pm local time).

Match report: Page 3.