Lucy Bronze has told of her pride after being named England player of the year at the 2015 FA Women’s Football Awards.
The Manchester City star, from Alnwick, amassed the most votes from football fans and was given the trophy at a ceremony at London’s Wembley Stadium last Friday.
For Bronze, the prize win is just one of a series of highlights of a remarkable year.
The Berwick-born 24-year-old was an integral member of the England women’s team that made history by finishing third at this year’s World Cup in Canada.
She was named on an eight-player shortlist for the Golden Ball Award for the player of the tournament after scoring twice, including a cracking winner from the edge of the area against Norway.
Her second came in the last-eight clash against the hosts and helped secure a semi-final berth, only for England to be knocked out by Japan.
Last week, she was named on the shortlist for the award for BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
After winning the Vauxhall-sponsored prize for player of the year, she said: “This is a huge honour.
“I’m still only 24, and I’d like to think I’ve still got a few more years in the tank, but to come away with this award is great, especially after the year we’ve had and how well all the girls have done this year with England. It’s an unbelievable achievement, and I’m so happy with it.
“This year has definitely been a bit of a whirlwind.”
Though Bronze and her England colleagues have had a successful 2015, she believes that the best is still to come.
She said: “I think the only way is up for the women’s game. If you look at the World Cup, we finished third and were the top European team at the competition, so if you look to the Euros in 2017, the next big tournament, you have to say that we can push to the final and win it, which I believe we can. We want to continue to grow the women’s game.”
Bronze certainly has high hopes for her domestic side Manchester City next term.
She said: “Manchester City is the place to be for women’s football, and to be involved with this club is unbelievable.
“I am so excited for next season, not just for the Champions League, but also for the league campaign and other cups.”
The day before Bronze was crowned player of the year, she was at Alnwick Town, a club she played for as a junior, to take part in a mini-game with youngsters from their girls’ section.
The BBC filmed the session, and its footage is set to be shown during the Sports Personality of the Year event on Sunday, December 20.
Bronze is up against the likes of tennis star Andy Murray and gold medal-winning athletes Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis-Hill.
The winner will be decided by a public vote, so we have produced a cut-out-and-keep poster, on Page 31, to encourage readers to vote for Bronze.