It’s scary to think I’m up there now – Lucy Bronze on being named world’s best

Lucy Bronze admits it feels “surreal” to have joined the likes of Brazil great Marta as a winner of FIFA’s women’s player of the year award.

The England and Manchester City full-back made history as she took the gong at the FIFA Best Football Awards on Thursday.

Bronze, who pipped Wendie Renard and Pernille Harder to the honour, is the first British player to win the award and the first defender.

“Pretty much all the previous winners messaged me last night to congratulate me, which is really nice – all players I’ve looked up to throughout my career,” Bronze said.

“It’s kind of surreal for me to feel like I’m up there with them. My name is on that plaque forever now, it will be for the rest of history.

“That’s kind of crazy and exciting, to be alongside players (like) Marta. Marta is someone who has won this award, and I won the same award as Marta. That’s crazy.

“That’s someone who, when I was younger, was just incredible. It’s kind of scary to think I’m kind of in and around those names now.

Brazil’s Marta has scored a record 17 Women's World Cup goals (Mike Egerton/PA).
Brazil’s Marta has scored a record 17 Women's World Cup goals (Mike Egerton/PA).

“Until I see my name engraved on it I probably won’t believe it. Maybe at Christmas it’ll sink in, or when the new year comes and I can think, ‘Wow, 2020 is the year I actually won the best player in the world.”

The first person Bronze phoned was her mother, whom she thinks was “fighting tears back a bit”, and she said: “All my family were dead proud, which is kind of the best bit, seeing them. They probably feel more towards the trophy than I do.”

She added: “The only people who have consistently stuck by me through the good and the bad, through my worst days, have been my family. My parents especially. I’m one of those kids I guess that’s so fortunate.”

Asked what she would have thought if she had been told as a young girl that she would one day be voted the best player on the planet, she said: “I think I probably would have laughed but, knowing what I was like when I was younger, I’d have been like, ‘Yeah, I know I’m going to be good’.

“I’ve always had a confidence running through me, it’s just been built into me.

“Every single thing, whether it’s in training or games, I want to be the best, to win, that’s always been ingrained in me. So I feel like a young Lucy Bronze would have been very happy to take that challenge upon herself, to try to be the best.”

In 2020 Bronze won the Champions League with Lyon for a third successive year, plus a domestic double, before rejoining City and winning the FA Cup.

The 29-year-old, part of England’s runs to the semi-finals of their last three major tournaments, feels she won the FIFA award due to “an accumulation of successes I’ve had over the previous two, three, four years”.

She has stressed she wants to “keep achieving more”, adding: “I think that’s probably why I get myself into the positions I do, being nominated for awards – because I am just someone who is constantly trying to challenge myself.”

Bronze won the Women's FA Cup with Manchester City last month, having helped Lyon claim a treble earlier in the year (Adam Davy/PA).
Bronze won the Women's FA Cup with Manchester City last month, having helped Lyon claim a treble earlier in the year (Adam Davy/PA).

Bronze is keen to return to her top form, having not yet been at her best since returning to City, and has emphasised her targets of winning the Champions League with the club and helping Great Britain claim Olympic gold in 2021.

Next year will see England – and potential GB – manager Phil Neville succeeded in September by current Holland boss Sarina Wiegman, who was named best women’s coach on Thursday.

Bronze said: “When the FA were talking about successors, myself and Steph Houghton were involved in some of the early talks and as soon as I heard Sarina’s name mentioned I was like, ‘That is exactly who I want’.

“With Sarina we have a home Euros (in 2022) and then a World Cup, and we’re getting a manager who has won a home Euros (in 2017), then got to a World Cup final.

“She has now officially been named as the best coach in the world, so there’s literally no-one else better out there who we could have got to take over and to take us to the next level.”