'Lucy is seen as a real star': Reaction from where it all started after Lucy Bronze named UEFA Women's Player of the Year
Lucy Bronze, winner of the UEFA women's player of the year award, has been congratulated by the club and community where it all began.
The Berwick-born star, who spent her early years on Holy Island, began her junior footballing career at Alnwick Town and also played for Sunderland.
Paul Yeadon, Alnwick first team manager, said: "We're really proud of her. It's a fantastic achievement. As an Alnwick lad myself, it's great to be able to say we've got the best player in the world!"
He was a sports coach in the area when Lucy first arrived on the scene at coaching sessions and holiday clubs and he remembers her well.
"You could tell from day one that she had something special about her," he recalled. "She was really determined to be a footballer from a young age. She wanted to be the best and lead by example."
Despite being the best player on her team, she wasn't allowed to play on the boys' team after the age of 12 due to then-FIFA regulations, and Blyth had the only girls' team nearby so she joined them.
Paul said: "Those were the rules then but we're pleased we gave her a platform to develop her skills and the coach then, Ray Smith, was really good in giving her the basics."
Coun Gordon Castle, Alnwick county councillor and a long-time board member at Alnwick Town, added: “Lucy Bronze has long been considered the world’s premier woman footballer, now confirmed.
"There will be great pride in Alnwick Town Football Club, where she began her footballing life, and around her home town. Women’s football has expanded enormously in recent years, especially in this area, which she may justly claim to be her legacy."
Lucy studied at the Duchess's Community High School in Alnwick, before moving to North Carolina to study at UNC and then later at Leeds Metropolitan University.
Maurice Hall, headteacher at Duchess's, said: "We are always extremely proud of Lucy's achievements and for Lucy to become UEFA footballer of the year is recognition of not only her amazing talents and hard work but also how she has gone about being an ambassador for the women's game.
"Lucy is seen as a real star amongst our students and shows what is possible if you have the skills and desire to aim high."
Mayor of Alnwick, Lynda Wearn, added: "I am sure that I speak for the people of Alnwick in saying we are delighted to hear that Lucy has won the UEFA Women's Player of the Year award. Her performance in the World Cup was outstanding and this award is well deserved.
"We are very proud that Lucy, who started her football career here in Alnwick, has gone on to represent her country and is a great example of what young people can achieve."
Lucy's footballing career has taken her to Sunderland, Everton, Liverpool, and Manchester City. She now plays for French side Olympique Lyon.
The 27-year-old was named UEFA Women's Player of the Year at a star-studded awards ceremony held in Monaco on Thursday night, although she couldn't be there in person because she was playing for England.
Lucy picked up 88 points in the poll of coaches and journalists, way ahead of Lyon teammate Ada Hegerberg on 56 points. She is the first defender to win the award, which comes after a great domestic season with her French club, winning the UEFA Women's Champions League, French League and French cup treble.
As well as reaching the World Cup semi-final, she also won the tournament's Silver Ball.
She said: "I'm ecstatic and super humbled to have won the award up against two fantastic players who I know really well at Lyon: two great girls, great players.
"I want to say huge thanks to the Lionesses, the England team. We had a great summer and I don't think I would have won this award if it wasn't for them.
"The same goes for the Lyon team. We had an amazing season, we won the treble. I think any one of those girls could have been up here receiving this award."