5. Lucy Bronze
A second consecutive appearance in the top 10 for Lucy Bronze, and it’s no wonder when Bronze is now considered the best right-back in world football.
Bronze’s rise over the past two years has been remarkable, her career taking another twist this year when the Lioness left Manchester City for a new challenge with elite side Lyon in France.
Despite being a defender, Bronze has slowly received a reputation for popping up with goals at key moments, something she continued to do in 2017.
Bronze scored a 90th minute winner against Reading as Manchester City made it to the FA Cup final to face Birmingham City, where the 26-year-old scored the opener and set up the second in a 4-1 win at Wembley.
There were no goal scoring heroics at Euro 2017, but Bronze’s interception and pass for Jodie Taylor helped England finally beat France and progress to the semi-finals.
Post-tournament, Bronze consolidated the opinion she’s one of the best around by signing for treble winners Lyon, where she’s hit the ground running and has a realistic chance of adding the Champions League to her CV.
Anson Dorrance, Bronze’s coach at North Carolina says:
“I’m very proud of Lucy and her progression as a remarkable footballer. My story with Lucy goes way back, her parents were merchants and when Lucy was young, the entire family would holiday in the USA.
“They’d bring Lucy to our camp and at the end of their holiday they’d come back to pick her up. She came over here several times, probably starting when she was 12 or 13 and by the time she was 15 or 16 she was really starting to play a bit. I went up to and asked her if she’d want to play for England one day and she said it was her dream, but didn’t think anyone would come up to Sunderland to watch her play. I told her I had contacts at Arsenal and that I’d arrange for someone to take a look at her, she was stunned we had an interest in her evolution in England and that we had contacts at Arsenal. Sure enough, they went up to take a look at her and she became a part of the national youth system for England.
“We extended her a scholarship offer which she jumped on immediately and helped us to the championship in her freshman year. She got the game winning assist in the semi-final against Notre Dame. It was the only goal of the game, she was playing right midfield for me in a 3-4-3 and she drove the ball across for our striker and she really improved in that year for us. We loved her, but unfortunately it was during a part of England’s history when they weren’t really interested in having their players playing overseas. Lucy had a choice to continue playing with the England youth teams or to return with us at North Carolina, that was too much for a young player to absorb. She decided to stay in England, but we absolutely loved Lucy and I couldn’t be prouder watching this kid climb the ladder.
“She had the goal of the tournament at the last World Cup until Carli Lloyd in the final against Japan. She was honoured with being the best right back in the tournament and I’ve been so impressed watching her at her various clubs and for England. I saw Lucy living on this never-ending ascension, every year she came back to us her improvement was dramatic, and it was dramatic through her season with us. She was initially on the bench, but an injury or two gave her more games for us. After she left us that didn’t stop. I’m still in touch with her, last Spring I came to England and had dinner with her before a Manchester City FA Cup match.”
Rachel Brown-Finnis, former England international and team mate says:
“Lucy’s not just a defender, her attacking qualities are just as desirable as her defensive ones and she scores important goals for club and country, beyond just this year. She’s a fantastic player, she steps up her game when her team most need her. She’s fast, she’s direct and whatever team she’s in, she adapts to whatever tactics they use.
“I’m glad she’s gone to test herself elsewhere, Lyon’s another level. They expect to win the Champions League every single year.”
Mick Mulhern, Bronze’s manager at Sunderland says:
“Lucy impressed me the first time I saw her play at Sunderland centre of excellence. She was comfortable on the ball and kept things simple. Lucy is a very intelligent girl off the pitch and this has certainly transferred into her game. Lucy is strong and quick and reads the game so well. If she is ever out of position her pace will usually get her out of trouble. As an attacking threat she is hard to stop and this has been evident in recent years for England and her club sides. In my opinion she is one of the best right back’s in world football and she will only improve.”
Jen O’Neill, SheKicks editor and women’s football writer says:
“Lucy Bronze remains arguably England’s best and most consistent talent. A mentally strong, athletic, ultra-competitive driving force behind the team, Bronze relishes the challenge of facing the world’s best. Solid and rarely out-paced at the back or beaten in the air, her surging runs, forward passes and crosses contribute plenty of assists for team mates, whilst she chips in with her fair share of goals too and all of this from the right side of defence. World class.
“Her move to France to join Champions League holders Lyon from Manchester City in the summer – bravely heading in the opening goal against Birmingham in the Women’s FA Cup triumph at Wembley in her last appearance for the side – raised eyebrows, as she looks to challenge herself in the world’s best women’s club team.”