Welcome to the very 1st edition of the #ORP100, the Top 100 Women’s Footballers of 2016. From Monday 12th December to Friday 23rd December, we’ll be counting down from 100 to 1 – voted for by our esteemed panel of judges who have been busy putting together their individual lists over the past month.
In the first of ten pieces to come over the next 10 week days, we kick off with a couple of FA WSL stars and a striker who lit up the U17 World Cup.
See a full list of the 30 experts who voted and how the voting works here:
The fact Fran Kirby has made our list despite half a year out injured shows just how good the striker was before injury practically ended her FA WSL season. Mark Sampson saw her talent by including her in his 2015 World Cup squad despite Kirby only playing in FA WSL 2 at the time but it wasn’t long before she was donning the dark blue of Chelsea. A stunning solo goal against Liverpool saw her lead the goal scoring charts early on and there’s no doubt she would have challenged for the golden boot had it not been for injury.
England’s most capped player of all time made the big move to Arsenal last winter in order to make another challenge for the FA WSL trophy. Whilst the move hasn’t got the best out of Williams’ talent on a consistent basis, the 32-year-old has continued to be an important part of the England squad and will be happy to have played a vital role at Wembley as Pedro Losa’s side beat former holders and FA WSL champions Chelsea to win the FA Cup. After starring at the World Cup, will Williams play a key role at Euro 2017?
After a 2015 which saw Miyama viewed as one of the best players at the Women’s World Cup, Miyama has certainly had better years than what 2016 had to offer. The midfielder couldn’t stop her club side finishing bottom of the league and despite continuing to perform for Japan, the 2015 finalists failed to make the 2016 Olympics in Rio despite continuing to show their talent and ability in friendlies against world champions USA. With Miyama now past 30, we may have seen the best of a once world class player.
After growing up playing her football for Texas Tech University, it was perhaps no surprise when would end up at Houston when the NWSL Draft got underway last January. Beckie was the eighth pick and instantly rewarded Randy Waldrum with a goal on her debut against Chicago Red Stars. It was also a big year for Beckie with Canada, the striker scored three goals as Canada won a bronze medal to back up their bronze from London 2012 as the striker truly announced herself on the big stage.
The youngest player on our list of 100, Castellanos won’t turn 18 until April and many wouldn’t have known who she was until the recent U17 World Cup in Jordan. The striker scored three goals in the group stage before another brace against Mexico in the quarter-finals saw Venezuela progress to the semi-finals. Eventual champions North Korea was a step too far for Castellanos and her team mates but her superb strikes and good form for Florida State have ensured she’ll be one to watch for many years to come.
Yuika Sugasawa ended 2015 as the top player in the Nadeshiko, scoring 15 goals for JEF United but 2016 proved to be tougher for both Sugasawa and her club. The forward still contributed as JEF struggled through the league campaign and also played a part for Japan as the World Cup finalists shocked everyone by failing to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics. But in a side that struggled and started to bleed in a new generation of Japanese talent, Sugasawa was a consistent performer and will continue to be.
2016 was a huge year for Denmark’s Nadia Nadim. The striker signed for NWSL favourites Portland Thorns at the start of the year and scoring nine goals in her debut season – more than her Canadian team mate Christine Sinclair. Nadim won the NWSL Shield with Thorns and helped Denmark qualify for Euro 2017 where we’ll get a much closer look at the clinical striker. The season ended in disappointment as Thorns didn’t win the NWSL overall but 2016 was an impressive year for Nadim nonetheless.
Just 18 months after Losada left Barcelona for London, the classy midfielder announced the end of the season she would return to the La Liga side. But Losada left a lasting impact on her new fans, the 25-year-old was voted Supporters’ Player of the Year for her performances, the Spaniard unsurprisingly showcasing silky skills and crisp passing as Arsenal won the FA Cup but lacked consistency in the league. Losada will likely go to the Euro’s with Spain next year and now has a chance to shine once again with ex-club Barcelona.
The 23-year-old was one of many big name players on our list who made a big move halfway through 2016. Van Egmond’s performances and goals for Australia early in the year and her form for FFC Frankfurt earned her a move to Champions League finalists Wolfsburg for the new Bundesliga season. Far from reaching her peak, the midfielder is already one of the top midfielders in Europe and played a regular role for her country under Alan Stajcic at the Rio Olympics in the summer, no doubt she will be higher up this list in a year’s time.
Much was expected of Toni Duggan in 2016 after an explosive end to 2015, but injury late in the season seemed to stall her form and the forward missed a penalty on the opening night of the season. Duggan dropped out of the England squad but after much hard work and a return to form for her club, Duggan returned to the England squad and popped up with a superb goal away at Brondby last month as Manchester City booked their place in the Champions League quarter-finals.