Steph Houghton will lead England as they begin their title defence (PA Images)
05 March 2020

England's Steph Houghton insists there's mutual respect with USA ahead of SheBelieves clash

England women's football captain Steph Houghton has assured fans there is mutual respect between the Lionesses and the US Women's National Team despite the Americans knocking them out of last year's FIFA World Cup in the semi-final.

Houghton, 31, was notably unamused over the jubilant American celebrations after she missed a penalty that would have won the semi-final last summer to extra-time.

The Man City and England captain stormed out of a post-match press-conference when she was asked about the incident but now insists it is just a fierce competitiveness between the sides and they 'respect each other'.

A distraught Houghton was surrounded by celebrating American players after missing a free-kick in July (PA Images)

“Over the last few years USA v England has been a big game,” said Houghton. "When it comes to USA v England, it is physical, competitive and, no matter what, both teams want to win."

Since the World Cup, Houghton has come to terms with the somewhat over-exuberant celebrations of her opponents adding: "They’ve got every right to celebrate if you make the final and it only happens every four years."

She acknowledged the achievements of the American side in recent times but says her side still focus on their own performances.

"In terms of their ability and what they have achieved in the last few years as a team, we respect them, [but] we remain humble, we keep concentrating on England and try to be the best team that we can be," she said.

Ahead of their SheBelieves cup defence campaign, which gets underway against the World Champions on Friday, Houghton added: "You get so much more excited for those types of game because you are playing against the best players in the world. 

“They respect us," she said. "I know they respect us and we just have to have the courage to go out and win the big games, in big stadiums in front of big crowds. Really show what this England team are about.”

England begin their SheBelieves defence against the USWNT on Friday at the Exploria Stadium in Orlando.

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