How to come back from catastrophic failure

Laura Bassett's team-mates offer support after she scored an own goal in the final moments of the World Cup semi-final against Japan.Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Last night the nation was united in grief with Laura Bassett as she cried on the pitch after her stoppage time own goal that ended England Women's World Cup dreams.

The whole team had the weight of history upon them. For the first time ever the Lionesses had made it to the semi-final. If they'd made it to the final, it would have only been England's second World Cup final since the men won in 1966. People who don't usually care about women's football cared last night.

England defender Laura Bassett (6) and Japan forward Yuki Ogimi (17) fight for the ball during the second half in the semi-finals of the FIFA 2015 Women's World Cup at Commonwealth Stadium.Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Remarkably though, as Bassett sunk to her knees, the response from fans on social media was not an outpouring of vitriol as you might expect, but immense support. People tweeted #ProudofBassett; they praised the team's achievement; and manager Mark Sampson was quick to congratulate them, describing Bassett as a "hero".

It's good to see that the world is a kinder place than it sometimes feels. And though it's pretty rare for there to be millions of people watching when you experience your ultimate failure, the surge of emotion from fans just shows that we all know what it feels like. No one would have wanted to trade places with her at that moment.

But much as we might wish it would, life doesn't stop at the final whistle. We all have to find a way to face another day. So how do you pick yourself up and carry on?

Have a good cry

Mark Sampson said he'd told the team it was ok to cry about it, and that's good advice. Taking time to recognise that you've lost something that meant a lot to you is important. It's a form of grief and there will be all sorts of mixed emotions as you try to reckon with yourself – anger, frustration, disbelief. You'll want to re-write the past and will be forced to face up to the present all over again.

We need failure

As painful as it is, failure is a reminder that we're human, that we're fallible. Bassett was doing well before that kick. She was one of England's most capped players in the World Cup qualifiers. She'd gained kudos for getting a black eye in the opening match with France but taking it pretty stoically. She was described as "perhaps their best player on the day" until that goal.

Much of the time we manage to make it look like we've got it all together, but then inevitably failure creeps through the cracks. Oh how we wish it wouldn't. But it keeps us humble. It makes us realise that we need other people, and ultimately, that we need God.

Learn to laugh about it

Somewhere along the line you'll need to forgive yourself and laughter can play a part in that. Humour is great for drawing out the absurdities of life and Brits are generally fairly good at it – possibly a good thing given how often we seem to evade success.

Already last night there were suggestions that Bassett could look forward to being in the next Pizza Hut advert – referring to Gareth Southgate's self-mocking appearance under a paper bag after missing a vital goal in the penalty shoot-out of the Euro 96 semi-final.

Tomorrow is another day

We don't have to be defined by failure. It's one of those irritating truths that the stories of people who have done amazing things often include massive failures. Classic tales are Bill Gates the Harvard dropout and Oprah Winfrey fired for being "unfit for TV". You might want to hit people when they say that but resist the urge and something great may come of it. Failure can crystallise thought – whether making you more determined than ever on your original goal or changing the course of your life entirely.

For Bassett and the rest of the England side, one unbelievable goal will not be the end. The Lionesses have won the nation's hearts – and not just because we love an underdog. They have won respect as well as well as sympathy.