Jade Moore’s World Cup dream came to an end in cruel circumstances in the early hours of Thursday morning.
The Worksop-born England Lionesses star and her team-mates crashed out of the tournament at the semi-final stage with Japan gifted a winner deep in injury time – thanks to a freak own goal.
The ball cannoned off Laura Bassett, looped over England keeper Karen Bardsley and into the net, off the bar.
With full-time looming the game had been locked at 1-1, with both sides scoring through dubious penalty awards.
Birmingham star Moore, who grew up in Dinnington, played the full game for England, and along with her team-mates has risen to national prominence thanks to increased coverage of the women’s game in the past fortnight.
The 24-year-old came on as a substitute during the defeat to France in the group stages, but then started every other game for England.
Her twitter account was inundated with messages of support on Thursday, with many football fans highlighting her as one of the star performers for Mark Sampson’s squad.
The manager paid tribute to his players and called the manner of defeat undeserved.
“They left everything out on that field and it’s just a really tough way to go out of the tournament. The team didn’t deserve that but I’m just so proud of them,” he said.
“We came to this tournament as huge underdogs with the weight of a nation on our backs, the sceptics and critics, and they’ve really inspired a nation back home.
They deserve to go back home as heroes.”
Moore was already a hero at her former school, Dinnington Comprehensive.
Headteacher Paul Blackwell said it was vital for students to have someone to look up to.
“We’ve been following the team ever since we knew Jade had made the squad,” he said.
“We’re all incredibly proud of her performances, and all the other England players.
“It means a huge amount to the school.
“One of the things we’ve been working hard to do is to get our students to aspire, to be the best they can be.”
He hopes that Moore’s success, on the world stage, will show local youngsters that they too can achieve.
“One of the things said to me when I started here was ‘we’re just from Dinnington’ but I tell them they’ve got as much chance as anyone, to succeed.
“When they see someone like Jade, living the dream that she’s worked for since she was a young girl here at the school, it’s very inspiring.”
England Sampson now has to pick Moore and her team-mates up and dust them off, ahead of the third/fourth place play-off on Saturday, when England face Germany.
Defending champions Japan now prepare for the World Cup final against United States of America.