Alnwick’s Lucy Bronze ‘couldn’t really believe it’ when she found out she was on the shortlist for the 2015 BBC Sports Personality of the Year title.
The former Duchess’s Community High School pupil and Alnwick Town Junior is the first female footballer to be nominated for the prestigious award and she will be going up against the likes of Davis Cup hero Andy Murray, Tour de France winner Chris Froome and gold medal-winning athletes Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis-Hill.
The 24-year-old, who played as a youngster for Belford in the Glendale League, was an integral member of the England Women’s team which made history by finishing third at this year’s World Cup in Canada.
The Manchester City defender was named on the eight-player shortlist for the Golden Ball player of the tournament award after scoring twice, including a cracking winner from the edge of the area against Norway to propel the Lionesses into the quarter-finals.
Her second came in the last-eight clash against the hosts and helped secure a semi-final berth, where there was late heartbreak for England against Japan.
However, there was some redemption as the squad bounced back to beat arch-rivals Germany in the third-placed play-off.
Lucy told the Gazette: “When I was told, I couldn’t really believe it, because in terms of winning things, I haven’t had the most successful year.
“But I realised that this is one of the awards within sport that isn’t just about being the best and winning, it’s about how you have affected the nation that year.
“You look at 2001 when David Beckham won the award, after scoring that unforgettable free-kick (against Greece to send England to the 2002 World Cup).
“But the mere fact I’ve been nominated as the first female footballer is a huge honour, one which I very much share with my team-mates at England.
“The goal I scored against Norway simply woke up the country to women’s football, the whole team did the rest in inspiring the nation.”
During the World Cup, Lucy’s mum Diane described that special goal – and the reaction to it back in north Northumberland and England as a whole – as ‘unbelievable’.
Lucy found out about making the shortlist prior to the official announcement, during BBC1’s The One Show on Monday night.
She said: “Only my mam knew and she was sworn to secrecy, which for anyone who knows my mam knows how hard that must have been for her!”
The winner of the award is decided by a public vote on the night of the awards ceremony, which is Sunday, December 20.
Unfortunately, Lucy is not currently among the favourites to win the title, with her odds with high-street and online bookmakers ranging from 80-1 to as long as 250-1.
But hopefully she can rely on the support from people across Northumberland and the North East, as the only one on the shortlist from the region.
Lucy is the current joint holder of the Northumberland Gazette Sports Personality of the Year, alongside 1500m European and Commonwealth medallist Laura Weightman.