Chesterfield’s Liam Pitchford helped England clinch a World Championship medal for the first time since 1983, despite losing their semi-final 3-1 to Japan today.
None of the squad were born the last time England were on the podium, and they became the first team to be promoted from the second division – in Tokyo two years ago – to win a medal in the next championships.
World number seven Jun Mizutani broke England hearts, beating Paul Drinkhall 3-0 (11-8, 11-9, 11-4) and then sinking Pitchford 3-2 in the decisive fourth match (8-11, 9-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-6), having saved four Pitchford match points in the fourth game.
Pitchford was also beaten 3-2 by world number 24 Maharu Yoshimura (5-11, 14-12, 7-11, 12-10, 9-11).
World number 159 Sam Walker got England’s point with the biggest win of his career, beating world No 20 Yuya Oshima 3-1 (11-6, 11-6, 8-11, 11-9).
But England can take consolation from their bronze medal – awarded to both losing semi-finalists – and from having earned useful ranking points in the race for the Rio Olympics.
In the other semi-final, China beat Korea 3-0.