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.
See a full list of the 30 experts who voted and how the voting works here:
In the fourth of ten pieces to come over the next 10 week days, we take a look at three more stars of the FA WSL, an understated American and a French legend bowing out of the game…
2016 couldn’t really have gone much better for one of the USA’s most understated players. The midfielder made herself a regular member of the national team, scoring against Germany at the SheBelieves Cup and continued her good form into the end of year friendlies against Switzerland and Romania. Five goals and several assists ensured she was a key part of the success endured by Western New York Flash who ended up as NWSL champions with Sam Mewis at the heart of their team.
Daughter of a former international footballer, it’s no surprise Herlovsen has gone on to become one of the most clinical strikers in European football. After five years with Norwegian champions LSK Kvinner, Herlovsen’s goals to game ratio is quite incredible and her record for Norway isn’t bad either. The striker was top scorer in the Norwegian league in 2016 and had a staggering gap of 15 to the next best player. Up front with Ada Hegerberg at Euro 2017, Norway will be a tough team to keep out.
With young, talented centre backs queuing up at Arsenal this season, you could have been forgiven for expecting Casey Stoney to have her fair share of time out of the team in 2016. But the 34-year-old at times was at her brilliant best, leading by example as Arsenal struggled at times in the league but won the FA Cup at Wembley with Stoney at the heart of defence. Stoney is still firmly part of Mark Sampson’s England squad but will experience a new challenge in 2017 after joining Liverpool this week.
Izzy Christiansen went into 2016 with all eyes on her after a superb 2015 campaign which would see her pick up PFA Player of the Year earlier this year. Sadly, injury against Liverpool in the FA Cup curtailed her season and she wouldn’t return until just before the summer break. But superb goals against the likes of Notts County showed Christiansen hadn’t lost her touch and also worked her way towards a regular spot in Mark Sampson’s England squad. Between her and Jordan Nobbs, England have some competition in that No.10 role.
After several attempts to bring her to Liverpool, Matt Beard finally got his player as Emilie Haavi signed for NWSL side Boston Breakers at the end of another good year with LSK Kvinner in her native Norway. Haavi scored 12 goals in the Toppserien during 2016, only behind team her team mate Herlovsen but her overall contributions to the side ensured a well earned move to one of the world’s top leagues. Along with Herlovsen and the superb Ada Hegerberg, Norway have an attack to dread at the European Championships next summer.
It was a classy end to a classy career as Louisa Cadamuro – better known as Louisa Necib – announced her retirement from football in the build up to the Rio Olympics. Whilst her career ended with a sorry defeat to Canada in the quarter-finals, Cadamuro did score two goals in the groups and ended her career at the very top with her club side Lyon. Necib scored in the quarter-finals and semi-finals as Lyon won the Champions League and ended the Ligue 1 season with an incredible 11 assists – just two behind team mate Camille Abily.
2016 was a very up and down year for Eni Aluko, the striker admitting off-field issues affected her form at times but her quality shone through as she still walked away with the FA WSL golden boot. Three goals in the final two games were enough to take her above Jane Ross and Aluko also picked up her 100th cap for England in the SheBelieves Cup. Sadly, Aluko would rarely make the England squad again in 2016 but she’ll go into the winter overjoyed with her ten goal haul in the FA WSL and more competition up front up top for Chelsea next season.
2016 was another virtuoso year for Laura Georges, despite now moving into her thirties she has kept herself a regular in the France squad and a top side in PSG. With Griedge Mbock Bathy coming through as the next talented French centre back, Georges may soon see herself used sparingly but with over 150 caps under her belt and a real shot at domestic and European glory this year, Georges is going nowhere any time soon but will have been disappointed to miss the Olympics through injury.
After impressing in Belgium with Standard Liege, Wullaert earned herself a big move to Wolfsburg ahead of 2016 but the competition for places has seen Wullaert struggle for regular game time. Wullaert came on as a late sub in the 2016 Champions League final and has at least continued to be a key player for her country but surely the 23-year-old will be looking for a move away in search of regular game time ahead of Euro 2017 next summer because it’s a big chance for the striker to shine on the biggest stage.
Marie-Laure Delie’s scoring record since joining Ligue 1 giants and her 2015-16 campaign wasn’t bad either. 12 goals in 18 games saw her as fourth top scorer in Ligue 1 behind two Lyon stars and PSG team mate Cristiane. Whilst Delie was part of the PSG team that couldn’t go all the way in Europe, she is now second top scorer in history for the French national team and scored France’s final goal of Euro 2017 qualifying. Delie also went to Rio with France and with Cadamuro stepping away, Delie may play a bigger part at the Euro’s but still has tough competition up top.