How Steph Houghton showed her class yet again after the ex-Sunderland star hit a major milestone

England's Steph Houghton signs autographs for a young fan.
England's Steph Houghton signs autographs for a young fan.
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At 3:30pm the whistle blew, signalling England’s first home defeat in over three years.

But two hours later, Steph Houghton remained at the ground - signing autographs and posing for numerous selfies despite the disappointing defeat.

A 2-0 defeat to Sweden was perhaps not the way Houghton wanted her 100th England appearance to play out but, regardless of the result, she continued to show the class and compassion which has made her one of the most popular figures in women’s sport.

First-half strikes from Sofia Jakobsson and Anna Anvegard consigned England to a rare home defeat on a day which was centred around this superb milestone.

Houghton, born in South Hetton and a former Sunderland Ladies defender, was rested for the Lionesses’ trip to Austria last week in order to receive her 100th cap on home soil.

Not that she wanted the focus to be on her.

“Steph’s not bothered about her 100th cap, said manager Phil Neville.

“She’s more worried about the team are and how they can react.”

And despite that message to her manager, the afternoon was a true celebration of Houghton’s stellar international career.

After a pitchside presentation involving her family pre-match, her early touches were met with a rapturous reception by the crowd at Rotherham United’s New York Stadium.

Then, while many would have wallowed in defeat post-match, Houghton did not.

Instead, she continued to do what she has done since she burst onto the scene at Sunderland in 2007 - she helped to inspire the next generation by talking to the hundreds of young supporters desperate for her autograph.

She becomes the eleventh player to rack up 100 England caps and, if she continues to inspire the next generation as she has done, plenty more may be hitting that landmark.