Former Sunderland player, Lucy Bronze, was announced as winner of FIFA’s Best Women’s Player of the Year on Thursday, with Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandoski winning the men’s award.
Highly regarded as one of the best in the world, the Berwick-born fullback became not only the first defender to win the award, but also the first English player too.
Bronze is a Sunderland AFC Academy graduate, and made 25 appearances for the Black Cats between 2007-2010, a period that included a spell in US college soccer at the University of North Carolina.
She has since played for Everton and Liverpool before spending three years at Manchester City. At City, Bronze had a giant impact, helping the Citizens to an unbeaten run in the WSL, as well as winning the WSL Cup and an FA Cup.
In 2017 Bronze moved to France to play for Olympique Lyonnais, where she won three league titles, three Champions League titles, two Coupe de France trophies and one Trophée des Championnes. Earlier this year she moved back to Man City and has already helped them win another FA Cup in November. Not a bad record is it?
My personal favourite memory of Bronze was during the World Cup in France last year and watching her score, quite possibly, one of my favourite goals ever, against Norway. After a short free-kick hit out to the side from former Black Cat Beth Mead, Bronze charged in from the edge of the box and pounced on the ball, striking it sweetly over the Norwegian defence and hitting dead centre under the bar. An absolutely beautiful goal indeed.
Black Cats fans should be proud of not only Bronze’s achievements but the crop of talent that our Academy has produced. The defender is part of an illustrious alumni list that includes England captain Steph Houghton and Liverpool captain and SPOTY-nominee Jordan Henderson.
As Sunderland football club moves into a new, youth development-focused era under the guidance of Sporting Director Kristjaan Speakman, it’s a timely reminder that this club and our region is the heartland of both men’s and women’s football. Let’s hope that if and when fresh investment does come, the current Lasses side - who include a number of young prospects - are not neglected and the club sets the same ultimate goal of a return to top flight football for both Lee Johnson and Mel Reay alike.
In the meantime, well done Lucy - a massively deserved achievement.
Please note: Sunderland AFC Ladies’ game away at Burnley this weekend was cancelled by the hosts due to concerns over the risks of covid-19. We here at Roker Report will pick up out coverage of the Lasses when the season resumes with the FA Cup in the New Year.