Liverpool defender – ‘I never in a million years thought I’d win’

Chelsea's Eden Hazard (left) with the PFA Young Player Of The Year award, alongside Liverpool Ladies Martha Harris (second left) with the PFA Young Player Of The Year Award, Liverpool Ladies Lucy Bronze with the PFA Player Of The Year Award and Liverpool's Luis Suarez (second right) with the Player of the Year award, during the PFA Player of the Year Awards at the Grosvenor Hotel, London. Picture: EMPICS Sport
Chelsea's Eden Hazard (left) with the PFA Young Player Of The Year award, alongside Liverpool Ladies Martha Harris (second left) with the PFA Young Player Of The Year Award, Liverpool Ladies Lucy Bronze with the PFA Player Of The Year Award and Liverpool's Luis Suarez (second right) with the Player of the Year award, during the PFA Player of the Year Awards at the Grosvenor Hotel, London. Picture: EMPICS Sport

If you had asked Lucy Bronze 12 months ago what her main goal was for the year ahead, she would have simply said it was to stay fit.

Yes, she had ambitions of receiving her first call-up to the England senior squad, but getting a season under her belt at new club Liverpool Ladies was very much the priority for the injury-plagued defender.

Gavin Patterson (CEO, BT Group plc) presenting Lucy Bronze (Liverpool Ladies) with the PFA Women's Players Player of the Year Award at the 2014 PFA Awards in association with BT Sport. The awards were held at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London on Sunday,  April 27. BT Sport is the main sponsor and exclusive broadcaster of the PFA Awards.  Picture courtesy of PA, photo credit required: 'PA'.

Gavin Patterson (CEO, BT Group plc) presenting Lucy Bronze (Liverpool Ladies) with the PFA Women's Players Player of the Year Award at the 2014 PFA Awards in association with BT Sport. The awards were held at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London on Sunday, April 27. BT Sport is the main sponsor and exclusive broadcaster of the PFA Awards. Picture courtesy of PA, photo credit required: 'PA'.

So fast-forward to the present and the 22-year-old could be forgiven for pinching herself at just how far she has come in a short space of time.

Her place in the national side has been cemented, earning multiple caps since her debut in June, and she has a Women’s Super League title to her name – having played regularly to help Liverpool win the 2013 championship for the first time in the club’s history.

And to top it all off – she was named the PFA’s (Professional Footballers’ Association’s) Women’s Player of the Year at a plush ceremony in London on Sunday. Her male equivalent was one Luis Suárez – this season’s current Premier League top goalscorer.

By her own admission, if anyone had told her a year ago that she would be in such a position, she would have laughed in their face. But it’s no joke – this talented girl from Alnwick has made it to the top of the tree.

This is Lucy Bronze in action for England women against Japan.

This is Lucy Bronze in action for England women against Japan.

And her rapid rise in the game, topped off by Sunday’s honour – as voted for by her fellow PFA members – has left her shocked, surprised and almost speechless, yet also determined to improve and further develop her game.

“I never in a million years thought I would win it,” said Bronze. “It is an honour and humbling. I’m just thankful to all the girls who voted for me.

“It means so much to be voted for by players from rival teams and players that I have been playing against.

“I’m almost speechless and in a way it feels like this award is shared between the Liverpool team because I couldn’t have won it without them.”

Lucy Bronze, left, with the FA Women's Super League trophy.

Lucy Bronze, left, with the FA Women's Super League trophy.

Bronze fended off competition from last year’s winner Kim Little, Arsenal’s Siobhan Chamberlain and Jordan Nobbs and Liverpool’s Natasha Dowie and Nicole Rolser.

In doing so, she became only the second winner of the award since its introduction by the PFA last season. She admits that winning it as a defender makes it extra special.

“It tends to be your goalscoers and playmakers who win these awards, not defenders,” she said. “Besides, I only scored one goal for Liverpool last season!”

And having been presented with the accolade, Bronze couldn’t quite believe that she was placed in the same regard as Uruguayan striker Luis Suárez.

“I have won the female equivalent of his award,” she said. “To be matched with him is an honour in itself. He is a world-class player and I have won the same award as him.”

Bronze, named in the PFA Women’s Super League Team of the Year, was in the running to win the Young Player of the Year award, but was pipped by club colleague Martha Harris.

Bronze will be aiming to start England’s World Cup qualifier against Ukraine next Thursday, with coverage starting on BBC Two from 7pm.