Lucy Bronze of England and Olympique Lyonnais has been crowned the winner of BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year 2018.
The annual award from the BBC World Service – now in its fourth year – is voted for by football fans from around the world.
On winning the award, the 26-year-old right-back said: “I really didn’t think I was going to win; it’s definitely special to know that fans and people are behind me. (I’m) grateful to win the award, I was very grateful to even be nominated. The people who’ve been nominated alongside me are really great players and had really great years so it’s really special to have won it this year.”
BBC presenter Sarah Mulkerrins revealed the winner during Sport Today on the BBC World Service and on BBC World News and the BBC Sport website. The trophy was presented to Bronze by her Aunt, Julie Tough.
Bronze emerged as the winner from a shortlist of some of the top names in women’s football. The Netherlands’ Lieke Martens came in second and Australia’s Sam Kerr came in third place in the public vote. Denmark’s Pernille Harder and Germany’s Dzsenifer Marozsán were also nominated.
Looking back over her achievements in the past year, there’s a definite highlight for Bronze – scoring in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against her former club Manchester City: “I shocked my team mates and myself by scoring it and the opposition – I think everyone was quite shocked. I can’t really remember much of the rest of the game but I remember the goal.”
Bronze said she spoke to her former teammates after the whistle blew: “It was a fairy-tale that I scored the winning goal (but) of course it wasn’t nice to see a lot of my friends so upset.”
Bronze signed for European champions Olympique Lyonnais last August, saying she wanted to improve her technical skills and was seeking a new challenge: “Coming to Lyon meant everything to me… To play with all these players at such a dominant club in women’s football… It’s a great thing and it was something that I always wanted to aspire to but you never know whether you are capable of doing it until you actually do it.”
Bronze is set to play in the Women’s Champions League Final on Thursday 24 May between Olympique Lyonnais and Wolfsburg FC where she will be the sole English representative on the pitch: “I’m really excited – all the girls are excited.” Reflecting on the pre-match build-up, Bronze said: “I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything like this. Lyon and Wolfsburg are the top two European teams at the minute. It is going to be a total head to head. I thrive off these opportunities and I really want my hands on the trophy. It’s the reason I came here and I don’t want to go home without it.”
Looking ahead to next year’s World Cup, Lucy said it will be an advantage to have already spent so much time in Lyon: “I came here knowing that the World Cup was being played in France and that the final was being played in Lyon so I did see that as another advantage. We (England) have got a great opportunity to actually win it. The team’s definitely improving and the League (in England) is improving year to year. So I think we’re really feeling confident, obviously we still have to qualify and that’s the most important thing, but we’re definitely in a good place… and we’re going to try our hardest to get there.”
Before signing with Olympique Lyonnais, Bronze played for Manchester City, and scored the opening goal as they beat Birmingham City 4-1 to win the Women’s FA Cup for the first time in May 2017. She was a member of the England team who reached the semi-finals of Euro 2017, where they lost to eventual winners and hosts the Netherlands.
Bronze is the fourth player to win BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year. The previous winners were Ada Hegerberg in 2017, Kim Little in 2016 and Asisat Oshoala in 2015.
Mary Hockaday, Controller of BBC World Service English, says: “Enormous congratulations to Lucy Bronze for winning the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year 2018. Now in its fourth year, the award is getting bigger each year, reflecting the growth of and interest in women’s football. We wish Lucy all the best in Thursday’s Champions League Final and we’ll be watching out for her in next year’s World Cup.”