England ace Lucy Bronze has revealed her surprise at being named the UEFA Women’s Player of the Year in a refreshingly humble interview with talkSPORT.
Voted for by top coaches in the women’s game and journalists, Bronze is the first English recipient of the award after an outstanding 12 months on the field.
The 27-year-old was voted the second-best player at the World Cup as she helped England to the semi-finals in France and also helped Lyon to their sixth Women’s Champions League title.
Bronze joined the French club in 2017 and has won back-to-back Champions League and Division 1 Féminine titles, as well as the Coup de France, since joining the powerhouse club of the women’s game.
She also won three Women’s Super League titles during previous spells with Liverpool and Manchester City.
Being crowned the best player in Europe will come as no surprise to Lionesses manager Phil Neville, who has tipped Bronze to win the Ballon d’Or plenty of times in the past.
Following England’s 3-0 World Cup quarter-final win over Norway, in which Bronze scored a screamer, Neville said: “I think what you’ve seen today is that Lucy Bronze is the best player in the world, without a shadow of a doubt. I’ve said it once, I’ve said it three times. There’s no player like her in the world. There’s no player that’s got her athleticism or her quality. I’ve played full-back, but never ever ever to that level. She’s the best player in the world.”
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But it seems Bronze still needs convincing, having admitted to talkSPORT she doesn’t even feel like the best player at Lyon despite beating fellow Lyon stars Ada Hegerberg and Amandine Henry to the UEFA gong.
And the full-back paid tribute to her club team-mates for pushing her to raise her game since joining the French giants two years ago.
“I don’t think I would have been up for an award like that if I hadn’t moved to Lyon,” she said on Friday’s Sports Breakfast.
“The fact three girls were nominated for the award from the exact same team, I play with a Ballon d’Or winner, the French captain, the Japanese captain, they win awards all the time, it’s a team full of superstars and they push me to make me better.
Lucy Bronze celebrates with Lyon team-mate Shanice van de Sanden after beating Barcelona in the UEFA Women’s Champions League final in Budapest[/caption]
“I don’t feel like the best player because I play with them and I know how good they are, which is probably why I was a bit surprised that I won the award last night.
“I don’t think it has quite sunk in. I just hear ‘Lucy Bronze’ and just kind of don’t hear the ‘Women’s Player of the Year’ bit.
“But if I hadn’t gone to Lyon, I don’t think my game would be where it’s at now.”
Bronze’s win was announced at a glitzy event in Monaco, as awards were handed out ahead of the draw for the 2019/20 Champions League group stage.
The two top awards went to Virgil van Dijk, crowned the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year for his performances for European champions Liverpool, and Bronze – but the England star was forced to give her speech via a pre-recorded video as the Lionesses were actually playing a friendly against Belgium that evening.
Neville’s side drew 3-3 in their first game since the World Cup, and Bronze admitted it was probably best she wasn’t actually at the awards evening in person as she would been anxious about speaking in front of the global superstars in the room, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
She said: “I would have been great to go to the awards and share that moment with such fantastic players from the men’s game. They are global superstars.
“But it was probably better that I couldn’t go because I’m not that great at speaking on the stage and speaking in front of people. It was probably better I did a little message at home than speak to all those people at the event!”