Wednesday 11 October 2017, 07:29

Cushing: Lloyd invests in helping team-mates

  • Carli Lloyd nominated for The Best FIFA Women’s Player 2017

  • 2016 winner spent four-month loan spell at Manchester City, winning FA Cup

  • Blues manager Nick Cushing discusses Lloyd's impact on WSL club

Having won one FIFA Women’s World Cup™, two Olympic Gold Medals and two World Player of the Year awards, Carli Lloyd has tasted enormous success in her distinguished career. At the age 35, a time when many would be in the twilight of their playing days, Lloyd’s commitment to competing and winning shows no signs of waning.

A finalist in The Best FIFA Women’s Player 2017, and the winner of last year’s award, the USA international took herself out of the comfort zone in February 2017 by making the move across the Atlantic. Joining English Women’s Super League side Manchester City on loan, it was in England where Lloyd maintained her reputation of being a big-game player: scoring in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals and semi-finals, as well as finding the net in the Blues’ FA Cup triumph in front of 35,000 at Wembley.

“All our players at Man City have a real desire to train hard and create an environment that is almost unrivalled,” Manchester City Women manager Nick Cushing told “Carli didn’t have to learn to be involved in that. She came here with a real desire to be the best and a real desire to win, both individually and as part of a team.

“She trains so hard every day and at times we had to drag her off the training pitch! It was really refreshing to see someone who has achieved so much in her career still have that real hunger and drive.”

Lloyd, of course, is a player renowned for her relentless work-ethic, whether on the training pitch or playing in a cup final. Having coached Lloyd during her fourth-month spell at City, Cushing was no stranger to witnessing first-hand her burning desire to keep striving for more, not to mention her ability to change the course of a game.

“On the pitch, her best qualities are the ability to score and create goals,” Cushing said. “Her speed and power is also almost unrivalled in the game. But off the pitch, her dedication and commitment to improving and the intensity that she trains is on a level I’ve never seen. She loved it here because the level we train at is the intensity she wants to work at.”

Wembley glory One of Lloyd’s most memorable moments in 2017 came at the scene of one of her finest games for the US women’s national team. At London 2012, the New Jersey native’s brace against Japan at Wembley secured Olympic gold for USA in the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament final. It seemed fitting, therefore, that on her Wembley return five years later, Lloyd would get herself on the scoresheet, helping the Blues to their first FA Cup.

“She definitely rises to the occasion and that helps with other players that see her so motivated and so driven,” said Cushing.

Rising to the occasion and being accountable is not the only reason why Lloyd, after returning to parent club Houston Dash in June, is fondly remembered at City. A player who strives to be the best, Lloyd is also committed to helping and developing her team-mates, particularly younger players who can learn first-hand from a vastly experienced player that has seen so much in the game.

“She invests her time in trying to better the younger players around her when she sees areas in which they can improve – whether that be on or off the pitch,” Cushing said.

“She definitely left a legacy of the level of commitment, drive and determination that you have to have to win individual awards, but also the part that you play as a team player – even though you’re up there with the best, you still play a team sport and you’re still a team player.

“She opened a lot of players’ eyes with her attitude, behaviour and work ethic every day. I think that left us with players that now invest a lot more time in on-the pitch and off-the-pitch behaviours which, for us, we’ll take forward in trying to be the best team.”