Lucy Bronze’s long-range strike secured a 2-1 win over Norway which gave the national side their first ever victory in a knockout match at the tournament.
They will now play hosts Canada, who are coached by Englishman John Herdman, in a quarter-final in Vancouver on Saturday and go into that game in the knowledge they have already achieved something no other England Women’s team have.
Sampson was delighted his players responded so well to falling a goal behind against Norway, who were dominant in the early stages of the game before captain Steph Houghton equalised and Bronze hit a 76th-minute winner.
“The team have made history,” said Sampson. “The team deserve all the credit in the world.
“We knew this was a big game for them and they wanted to ink their names in women’s football history and the team have stepped up and delivered for their country.
“If you concede the first goal it’s incredibly difficult to win the game.
“This group of 23 players has shown resilience, character and excellent game discipline to come back and win that match and we’ll take huge confidence from this victory.
“The objective was to get to Vancouver – we’re there now and we want this journey to continue.”
Houghton feels the victory is another step towards the squad’s pre-tournament goal of becoming role models to potential new young players in England.
“I think it’s brilliant for all of us as a squad and we know the sacrifices we’ve made to be in this position,” she said.
“We said at the beginning of this tournament that we wanted to inspire young girls to be footballers and to play for England and hopefully we’ve done that.
“We dug deep, showed a lot of character and showed the passion that we have for the England shirt.”
Norway coach Even Pellerud said: “England scored on their first scoring chance to level the game and we started to struggle. We became stressed.
“Compliments to my English colleague who managed to do some nice tactical changes at half-time.”