The heartbroken Lionesses waved to fans and signed autographs as they left Australia and embarked on their long journey home following the Women’s World Cup final defeat.
Head coach Sarina Wiegman led the squad out of their hotel in Sydney after their loss to Spain. Most team members kept smiles on their faces as they greeted fans, but some looked downcast as they got ready to board the plane back to the UK.
Fans are calling for the Lionesses to be given honours and a homecoming parade after they became runners up.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was the first to call for them to be given honours, saying they had ‘galvanised the whole nation through their historic achievement’.
Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, also said ‘everyone on the team’ deserved an honour.
And the sentiment was echoed by fans, who said: ‘There should still be a homecoming parade or celebration for the lionesses. They need to know the effect and pride they have inspired throughout the tournament @Lionesses we need to get this in place.’
England’s head coach Sarina Wiegman leaves the team’s hotel in Sydney, smiling and waving
England’s Katie Zelem leaves the team’s hotel in Sydney, following their loss to Spain
Chloe Kelly keeps a smile on her face despite the loss in the Women’s World Cup final
Lauren James and Rachel Daly as they get ready to make the long journey home
The Lionesses pictured looking more downcast as their time ends in Sydney
England’s Esme Morgan waving to fans outside their hotel
Calls are growing to recognise the squad with a honours and a homecoming celebration
Another said: ‘Proud of you, each & every one of @Lionesses! You’ve inspired us, through your team spirit, determination & performance! The final was one step too far, this time. Fantastic performance! Next step a very well deserved London bus parade & visit to Downing St/Buckingham Palace.’
Celebrities, royals and politicians have said the Lionesses have ‘inspired millions’ and ‘paved the way for generations to come’.
Olga Carmona’s first-half strike was enough to see off Sarina Wiegman’s team with fans agonisingly watching on as England were unable to make a breakthrough in Sydney on Sunday.
But despite the 1-0 defeat, fans were quick to congratulate the team on the ‘fantastic’ work they had done for the women’s game.
The Prince of Wales tweeted a personal message to the Lionesses after the match, saying their ‘spirit and drive have inspired so many people’.
William, who watched the final alongside the Princess of Wales and Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis at home in Sandringham, Norfolk, said: ‘Although it’s the result none of us wanted, @Lionesses you have done yourselves and this nation proud.
‘Your spirit and drive have inspired so many people and paved the way for generations to come.
‘Thank you for the footballing memories. Congratulations to Spain.’
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak posted on Twitter, now known as X, to say everyone was ‘incredibly proud’ of the team despite the loss.
He said: ‘You left absolutely nothing out there Lionesses.
‘It wasn’t to be, but you’ve already secured your legacy as game changers.
‘We are all incredibly proud of you.’
Jessica Carter leaves the team’s hotel in Sydney on Monday August 21
Crowds of fans take photos of England’s Millie Bright
England’s Ellie Roebuck as she prepares to come back home to the UK
Georgia Stanway pictured as the team prepare to head for their flight
Alex Greenwood smiles at fans on the way out of their Sydney hotel
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, who attended the game in Sydney on behalf of the Government, also spoke of how proud she was of the team, saying: ‘They inspired millions across the country with glorious performances, moments of magic and relentless determination and desire.
‘An incredible journey has come to an end but it will never be forgotten.’
Manchester United and England defender Maya Le Tissier said she was ‘gutted’ at the defeat, but ‘proud’ of the Lionesses who are ‘an inspiration for everyone’.
Speaking at a screening of the game in London’s Olympic Park, she told the PA news agency: ‘Gutted obviously, we were so close but unfortunately it didn’t go our way, but I think we can be very proud of the players.
‘They’ll be an inspiration for everyone, all the girls and the boys that now want to play for England.
‘They’re a massive inspiration for everyone and I think you can see the impact it’s had on Australia as well as a nation.
‘So yeah, they can be very happy with themselves.’
The Lionesses leave for England, defeated – pictured at the airport in Sydney
England’s Lionesses look downcast in defeat as they get ready to depart Australia at Sydney Airport
The Lionesses pictured queuing up at the airport, ready to make the long journey back home
Despite the 1-0 defeat, fans were quick to congratulate the team on the ‘fantastic’ work they had done for the women’s game.