Lucy Bronze is starting to grow accustomed to turning heads whenever she ventures out into the football-obsessed city of Manchester.
That wonder goal for the Lionesses in the World Cup against Norway has brought recognition beyond her wildest imagination, and from unlikely quarters.
Bronze returned home with, aptly, a bronze medal after England’s third-place play-off victory over Germany and admits she is still shocked by the welcome that greeted her.
The Manchester City defender said: “It was nuts when we got back straight from Canada. All the cameras and stuff as we arrived home, jetlagged, early in the morning.
“We got back and trained as usual, but then people started noticing me in the streets. Not just at football either. Now little girls come up to me and say, ‘Oh my god, it’s Lucy’. I can walk the streets in Manchester, not even in football stuff, and middle-aged men are coming up and saying, ‘Well done Lucy’.”
And if anything underlined just how England’s women had turned the accepted order upside down it came in the framed picture of a small boy poised over a football presented to her by one of the team sponsors, Vauxhall. Underneath it said: “2015 – The year boys all over England score goals in their garden, pretending they’re called Lucy”.
If you have not caught up with the goal that was variously described as “a screamer”, “a stunner”, “a crackerjack”, and “a goal that may singlehandedly convince doubters that women have the skill and power to play football”, then follow the links at the bottom of this piece.
“The words ‘ferocious strike’ and ‘Lucy Bronze’ have never been in the same sentence before,” she said listening back to the commentary for the first time. “It’s a little bit emotional,” she admitted.
“I didn’t know it was in when I hit it. When I scored I wasn’t thinking, ‘I’ve just scored an amazing goal’, I was thinking, ‘Wow, we are going to win the game! We are going to go through to the quarter-finals’.”
And beyond, as it happened. In fact, all the way to beating Germany for the first time in 31 years to claim third place.
Bronze went on: “That night I can remember staying up … we don’t really sleep after games anyway, being at a World Cup and it being such a big deal for England. So I was wide awake all night, reading through my Twitter feed, wanting to try and say ‘thanks’ to everyone. It literally took me all night, and people were retweeting me videos of the goal. That night was a bit overwhelming.”
Yet there is no doubt Lucia Roberta Tough Bronze (the ‘Tough’ being not a description but a legacy of her Portuguese heritage) would be the first to disclaim any singular status because of her goal. Others struck winners just as important, not least the penalty with which an apparently nerveless Fara Williams overturned the German’s three-decade run of supremacy.
Not one for sentimentality, she even lost her medal for a few days. It was still in her England tracksuit pocket in a suitcase she left at a friend’s house. “I’ve only just got it back. I’ll keep it for the minute because the little girls and boys who come to games want to see it. Then I’ll give it to my mum.”
The gesture will certainly be appreciated. After her goal, Bronze managed to speak to her mother in the dressing room where she was told: “Your nan’s lost her voice, your auntie’s going crazy and my phone’s going wild.” In that sentence she pretty much spoke for the whole nation.
The 23-year-old saxophone-playing defender, originally form Northumberland, played for Sunderland, Everton, Liverpool and North Carolina Tarheels before signing at Manchester City. Now she must temporarily put aside the unity that bonded the Lionesses for the practical purpose of trying to win the Women’s Super League.
“We’re in a good position. We can definitely do it,” she said of Manchester City’s title chances as she prepared for a Lioness-stuffed match against Arsenal in London. “I like playing against the best players in the League and I like playing against the England girls especially.”
Watch Arsenal Ladies v Manchester City Women on BT Sport 1 on Sunday, August 9 at 5.30pm.
To relive Lucy Bronze’s life-changing moment, click on these links:
- Link to BBC goal footage (includes commentary of goal).
- Lucy listening back to the commentary of her strike.
- Link to FIFA footage – goal included in tournament’s top 10.
- Reaction over the pond – Kelly Smith for Fox Sports.
- Humorous coverage of goal via American talk show, Late Night with Seth Meyers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This article was written by Ted Thompson and Megan Joyce
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