Lucy Bronze’s next two games tell her tale as one of the greatest Lionesses

Estimated read time 5 min read

Less than 48 hours after Lucy Bronze had lifted her fifth Champions League trophy, she was reporting to St George’s Park to prepare for the Lionesses’ two Euro 2025 qualifiers against France.

Bronze stepped out of her taxi at England’s training base with dark glasses on and smiles aplenty. The 32-year-old starred in Barcelona’s 2-0 defeat of her former side Lyon, but her presence was a haunting reminder of the words she penned for the global players’ union, Fifpro, two weeks earlier.

“After winning the Champions League final with Lyon in 2019, I had two days off before heading to the Women’s World Cup. Just 48 hours. That’s it,” she wrote, explaining the gruelling scheduling that has meant that she will have a family holiday this summer for the first time in more than a decade.

“We’re asking for proper rest periods and proper scheduling to end clashes. If the football calendar was organised in a way that those clashes didn’t have to happen, it would take a weight off players’ minds so we can focus on our game. As for me, with Team GB sadly not qualifying for the Olympics this time around, I’ve been able to make other plans this summer. And I must admit, I’m dead excited. I just wish I didn’t have to miss a tournament to get the rest I need.”

Lucy Bronze with the Champions League trophy last Saturday after winning the competition for a fifth time.View image in fullscreen

Bronze and her Barcelona teammate Keira Walsh skipped training on Tuesday for a day of rest after their Champions League exploits. In an ideal world, Bronze would be rested for England’s games against France, but they matter too much, with England needing a top-two finish in a tricky group completed by Sweden and the Republic of Ireland to avoid playoffs as they attempt to defend their European crown. Then there are the injuries, with the withdrawals of Niamh Charles and Lotte Wubben-Moy depleting defensive options and Maya Le Tissier called up to restock the backline.

Bronze also will not want to miss matches; she is too much of a competitor. It would be hard to count the number of times the right-back has been asked what keeps her hungry. In 2022, less than a month after England’s historic Euros victory and soon into her spell at Barcelona, she told the Guardian: “As soon as the last whistle went it’s like: ‘What next?’ Enjoy the moment while you have it, but you have to keep focused otherwise you’ll get left behind.

“That feeling of winning is so addictive. And the feeling of not winning is super horrible as well – I’m not a great loser. We had finally done something and then, for me, it was: ‘OK, this is what it feels like, but how many more times can we do this?’”

Lucy Bronze prepares in the gym at St George’s Park on Wednesday for England’s game on Friday at home to France.View image in fullscreen

It turns out, for Bronze, a lot. She has won almost everything, a 1-0 defeat by Spain in the final of the World Cup last year denying her the biggest prize. There is a strong argument to say she is the greatest Lioness of all time. Her five Champions League titles put her level with Gareth Bale with the most wins of any British player and ahead of any English footballer.

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Add those Champions League triumphs to three WSL titles, two FA Cups, two League Cups, three Division 1 Féminine titles, two Coupe de France wins, two Liga F titles, one Copa de la Reina and two Supercopa de España titles, a World Cup bronze medal, a World Cup silver medal and a European Championship title, and there can be few arguments. Bronze may not have the skill of arguably the most naturally gifted England player to date, in Kelly Smith, the creativity of the player once referred to as “mini-Messi”, Fran Kirby, or the leadership of long-time captain Steph Houghton, but her drive to be the best, to keep elevating and testing herself, is unmatched. She mixes skill and intelligence with athleticism to devastating effect, and it was no accident that she was named Uefa’s women’s player of the year in 2019, when she was runner-up for the Ballon d’Or, and the Best Fifa women’s player in 2020.

These two fixtures against France should be treated as a celebration of Bronze. The first game at Newcastle’s St James’ Park is being played less than 65 miles south of where she was born, in Berwick-upon-Tweed, and a short drive from Sunderland, where she began her career, and the second takes place in Saint-Étienne, less than 40 miles south-west of Lyon, the city she moved to in search of European glory.

Bronze’s future is uncertain, with Barcelona having to balance new deals against the huge amount they are believed to have spent renewing Alexia Putellas’s contract. Even if they want to keep Bronze, they may not be able to, but she showed her huge value on Saturday.


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