The Best FIFA Football Awards™

The Best FIFA Football Awards™

Monday 23 September 2019, Milan

The Best FIFA Football Awards

Lucy Bronze: From the pizza shop to the pinnacle

Olympique Lyonnais' English defender Lucy Bronze (C) and teammates celebrate.
  • Lucy Bronze again nominated for The Best FIFA Women’s Player award
  • She has gone from working in Dominos to winning the Champions League
  • The England star spoke to about her rise

At first glance, Lucy Bronze’s entire career seems to have been spent among the elite.

The England defender plays for Lyon, the world’s most star-studded club side, and has been nominated for The Best FIFA Women’s Player award for the second year running. Still just 26, she is a UEFA Champions League winner and a decorated international who has represented her country at U-17, U-20 and senior FIFA Women's World Cups.

Bronze’s honours

1 UEFA Women’s Champions League title
3 English league championships
1 French league championship
1 FA Women’s Cup
1 FIFA Women’s World Cup bronze medal
2 English PFA Player of Year awards
1 BBC Footballer of the Year award

But while this CV might give the appearance of a serene journey from one notable achievement to the next, it wasn’t always success and silverware. Bronze well remembers a darker time, when debilitating knee injuries led to her missing almost two-and-a-half years of football and spending close to a year on crutches.

In those days, she was on the verge of quitting the game altogether as she combined her studies at university with evening shifts in a bar and a Dominos Pizza store. “I started on the phones, taking orders, and then I did the toppings, making the pizzas, cutting and boxing them – everything really,” Bronze recalled in an interview with “I was at uni at the time, in a flat with six or seven other girls, so I’d bring a pizza home every night and we’d all get stuck in.

“That was life then. People only see where you are now, and they probably think that it’s all been easy for me. But I had so many problems when I was starting out – the big knee injuries especially. I definitely wondered at times whether I should just forget about doing anything in football and get a proper job.

“At the same time, I actually look back with a lot of fondness on that time. I loved working in Dominos, I loved working in the bar and being at university, getting an education. I didn’t love being injured but that whole experience, struggling a bit and working proper jobs, has helped me a lot and kept me grounded.

“It has definitely made me appreciate how lucky I am. Right now, I’m sitting in the sunshine in Lyon, waiting to get a massage. When I think back to those days - up early at the gym for rehab, then uni, then nights working in Dominos - I feel really lazy! Sometimes I feel I should get another job!”

Did you know?

Lyon, with six players in the running, account for 60 per cent of The Best FIFA Women’s Player nominees.

She may have it comparatively easy these days, but Bronze has earned every last perk of her privileged position. Dedication and determination have underpinned the defender’s rise, and her status as the best right-back in the world – discussed for several years – now seems beyond dispute.

England coach Phil Neville went further still recently, this after handing Bronze the captaincy for a FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifier. “She’s phenomenal,” enthused the former Manchester United and Everton defender. “I always say to people that I think Lucy could play in the men’s game, I really do. She’s got that much quality.”

But it should surprise no-one that, even with such lavish praise raining down on her, Bronze remains humble, grounded – and her own harshest critic.

“I’m definitely not satisfied with the level I’m at,” she said. “It’s always lovely to win trophies, have nice things said about you and be nominated for individual awards. But I feel I can give more – a lot more – to both Lyon and England, and that is definitely my focus.

“I don’t feel like congratulating myself because I know there’s still a lot of room for improvement.”

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