Wednesday 16 October 2019, 06:25

Bronze: I’m not the best, yet

  • Lucy Bronze was a finalist for The Best FIFA Women’s Player

  • England and Lyon star finished third in the running

  • Bronze: "I can be a lot better than the player I am now"

After an outstanding 2018/19 campaign, that saw her lift a treble with all-conquering club side Lyon, and reach a FIFA Women’s World Cup™ semi-final with England, Lucy Bronze found herself named one of the top three players in the world. The marauding full-back may have mirrored her surname in finishing third in the running to be The Best FIFA Women’s Player – behind USA duo Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan – but she was undoubtedly a golden player at both club and international level last season, resulting in her being named in the inaugural FIFA FIFPro Women’s World11.

Bronze faces new challenges this campaign. England may already be assured of their spot at UEFA EURO 2021 as hosts, but a second appearance at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament looms large for Great Britain – with the erstwhile Lionesses No2 hoping to play a key role at Tokyo 2020. That is not to mention attempting to follow up the prolific and sustained success for her club side. The England star caught up with to reminisce on her successful 2018/19 – including her star showing at France 2019.

Lucy Bronze of England looks on You’ve become the best full-back in the world. Your national team coach Phil Neville likes to play you in midfield – do you think you can become the best in the world in that position as well?

Lucy Bronze: I don’t think so! There’s a mountain of quality players in that position, I’m picking it up quite late in my career but it’s a challenge that I’m excited for. I think [Phil] wants to push me to make me a better player and I think playing in midfield can do that. It’s a good challenge, something I’m excited for and if it can make me a better player then that’s all I really care about.

Phil Neville has consistently called you the best player in the world. How do you feel when he gives you praise like that?

He says it to my face, he texts me it, he calls me on the phone and he tells me the same thing. I just say: ‘I’m not the best, yet’. Maybe I’ll never be there but I’m still striving to be better. I can be a lot better than the player I am now, the player that people have seen last season.

It’s fantastic that one of my coaches – especially my national team coach – has so much confidence in me and the way that I play and what I can do for the team.

All three finalists for The Best FIFA Women’s Player have been involved with Lyon at some stage of their career, and four of the 12 initial nominees were current Lyon players. Is there something about that club that attracts The Best?

They want to have the best players at the club. [Jean-Michel] Aulas, the president, is consistently out there searching for the best players that year and he wants to bring them to the club to keep Lyon at the top. Lyon have been the top team – arguably in the world – for a very long time.

They’ve been the best team in Europe for a very long time, they’ve won a lot of trophies and that’s because there’s a constant desire to bring in the best players, then the best players want to play with those players and that cycle continues. I think that shows in that Ballon d’Or winners, finalists for The Best, UEFA players of the year, a lot of these people have played for Lyon at some point in their career.

What was your favourite moment of France 2019?

I quite enjoyed the first game – our ‘local rivals’ Scotland. For me, it was my second World Cup and I remember how much excitement I had in the first one. It was nice for me to see players, at their first World Cup, how excited they were in the build-up to the game and that buzz around the camp for that first match, for the tournament to begin… All that hard work that we did for two, three years finally came to fruition in that first game. That was a special memory for me.

Despite that positive start, you fell at the semi-final hurdle for the second World Cup running. Was there anything from a personal point of view that you would have changed on the pitch in France that could have pushed you through to the Final?

I think there were no regrets on a personal level from this World Cup. It was my second World Cup, I knew the plans that Phil [Neville] had for me on a personal level. I think the hardest thing for me was playing so many games this entire season and trying to keep that level high through to the Champions League final, French Cup final, league games, England games and then a World Cup. It took its toll on me, but I know I gave absolutely everything to those 50 or so days in France. Unfortunately, we fell short, but I’m going to go again next year, and the next year until England finally get their hands on some silverware.