Bronze would ‘swap all her trophies’ for World Cup medal

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The Amex Stadium reserves a special place in the heart of Lucy Bronze as the place best friend and England teammate Demi Stokes scored her first and only international goal.

And in just a few days’ time, Bronze and her fellow Lionesses, including another Alnwick girl in the shape of Lucy Staniforth, will be back in Brighton with more at stake than just memories, facing New Zealand in their final World Cup warm-up game.

More than 20,000 fans are set to watch Phil Neville’s side in their final Road to France test at a stadium which yielded a 9-0 win over Montenegro in a 2015 World Cup qualifier, the game in which Stokes struck.

That contest was somewhat of a mis-match but next Saturday, Bronze is expecting a much tougher task against a New Zealand outfit ranked 19th in the world.

Bronze and Stokes have known one another since the age of 12 and won the FA WSL title together with Manchester City in 2016, before the former moved to Olympique Lyonnais a year later.

Now the summer World Cup presents the opportunity for the pair to go one better and bring the most coveted prize in football home.

“I will always remember playing at the Amex because Demi – my best mate and roommate – was playing left-back, I was playing centre-back and she scored her first England goal,” said Bronze.

“It must be a lucky stadium and I remember that game very well indeed. It will be a great bit of experience for us to play our final game before the World Cup there because I know that the atmosphere in France is going to be amazing.

“From playing over there, I know the crowds are always electric so it’s important to get some good performances in front of nice big crowds – I don’t think there is any better way to prepare for Scotland in the opening match a week later.

“A lot of the New Zealand players play in America and Australia so they don’t really play in Europe, let alone England.

“They might not be up there as a household football nation but they are a team that has been around for a very long time and a team that should be taken seriously.”

Since moving to France, winning has become second nature to the Berwick-born defender.

Fresh from sealing her second consecutive Champions League winners’ medal and back-to-back domestic league titles, Bronze now has eyes on the glittering gold World Cup trophy as the latest addition to her cabinet.

A three-time FA WSL winner with Liverpool and Manchester City, SSE Women’s FA Cup winner and 2018 Ballon d’Or nominee, Bronze would give them all back to get her hands on the World Cup in July.

“I would swap my entire trophy cabinet for the World Cup and I think that says it all because the World Cup is the be all and end all,” she said.

“If I won one World Cup and nothing else I would have had a successful career and playing for your country is the highest honour you can have in football.”

England Women host New Zealand on Saturday, at the Amex Stadium, Brighton, KO 1pm.