David Beckham inspires Team GB's women footballers before toughest match
GREAT Britain’s women footballers may be starting to make a name for themselves - but a meeting with David Beckham and Prince William at Wembley on Sunday night was still cause for schoolgirl excitement.
Hope Powell's side, including Orpington’s Claire Rafferty, are set for the biggest match of their lives this evening when they take on Brazil in their final Olympic group game.
GB are already assured of a quarter-final place but beating the South Americans would provide a massive injection of self-belief.
And they probably still have the goodwill messages from two of the most famous British personalities of all ringing in their ears.
"David Beckham sent me a few emails beforehand, which I passed on to the girls, but I am not sure they believed me," said Powell.
"Yesterday I told them he was going to try and see them in the Village.
"They went crazy but I was just joking.”
The head coach, from Greenwich, added: “On Sunday night they actually got to meet him.
“They were absolutely made up.
“They combed their hair about a thousand times and put lipstick on.
"Then Prince William came over for pictures and said he hoped they would do well in the next game.
"Those are one-off moments that you will treasure forever."
Great Britain has lost half of its Scots' contingent with the withdrawal of Ifeoma Dieke with a ruptured cruciate knee ligament - but if some way can be found for Powell to get her wish and extend Olympic participation beyond this fortnight, the boost to the women's game would be immense.
And, as she confirmed, Powell's players are ready to embrace it.
"They absolutely love it," she said.
"We tried to leave a little bit early last night so we wouldn't get stuck in the traffic and we were trying to pull the players away from people who wanted to take their photos.
"They are enjoying the adulation - and why not. We want to be accessible.
"We want people to recognise we are just human beings and want them to support our game."