Football: Britain's Prince William hopes 'Lionesses' roar into final
Britain's Prince William surprised the England women's football team ahead of their World Cup semi-final against Japan in Canada later Wednesday with a phone call to the squad wishing them good luck for the match.
William, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and second in line to the throne behind his father Prince Charles, is president of England's Football Association.
He phoned the team as they headed into their morning tactics meeting, with only manager Mark Sampson aware the call was coming.
William, who holds the title of the Duke of Cambridge, told the squad, known as the 'Lionesses': "Many, many congratulations to you all for what you have achieved so far and best of luck for today's match.
"Japan will be a tough team to beat but you are proving you are one of the best teams in the world and really making history."
The Duke added: "There is a fantastic buzz around the country. Everyone is following your progress and you are making the country proud. You are a true inspiration to all football fans, boys and girls, back home.
"Enjoy the game. We all have every faith in you and thank you for giving us all another excuse to stay up late and watch more football! Best of luck. Go get 'em."
England beat hosts Canada 2-1 in their quarter-final to set up a clash with defending champions Japan in what is the 'Lionesses' first World Cup semi-final appearance.
Sampson's side are the only team left in the tournament who have never previously won the trophy.
They are also the first England side of any kind to reach this stage of a World Cup since the men's team made it through to the last four at Italia 90.
Wednesday's match, being played at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, is also being screened on British national terrestrial broadcaster's main BBC One channel even though the match kicks-off at midnight UK local time (2300 GMT).
Wednesday's winners will face women's football powerhouse the United States -- coached by Jill Ellis, who was born in Portsmouth, on England's south coast -- in the final in Vancouver on July 5.
The only time England men's team have won the World Cup was on home soil back in 1966 when they defeated the then West Germany 4-2 after extra-time in a final at London's Wembley Stadium.
© 2015 AFP