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Duke wishes women footballers luck

The Duke of Cambridge made a surprise phone call to the England women's football team to wish them luck ahead of their semi-final match against Japan in the World Cup.

William, who is president of the Football Association, phoned the team as they went into their morning tactics meeting, with only manager Mark Sampson aware of the call.

The Duke told them: "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.

"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 the hosts Canada in a nail-biting quarter-final on Sunday to set up a semi-final match against Japan - the first time an England team has been in a World Cup semi-final since the men's team played West Germany at Italia 90.

It is the first time the women have reached this stage of the tournament but they will go into the match as underdogs against a Japan side whose technical brilliance and passing game have led to comparisons with Barcelona.

The match, being played at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, is being shown live on BBC 1 and kicks off at midnight.

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