Football - Bruiser Bronze going for gold as England eye World Cup

Liverpool Ladies' Lucy Bronze has had a hectic week after boxer Tyson Fury accidentally called her out for a fight on Twitter.

Football - Bruiser Bronze going for gold as England eye World Cup

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Lucy Bronze (The FA)

"I wasn't even on Twitter at the time," she says. "I logged back on, and suddenly I had all these mentions saying, 'Yeah, fight him!' and I didn't know what was going on until I scrolled down to the bottom and saw his original tweet."

TWEET: Tyson Fury calls out Lucy Bronze

Fury meant to direct his challenge to Deontay Wilder, whose Twitter handle is @BronzeBomber - but either spelling errors or autocorrect took over.

He now has his next opponent lined up, Alexander Ustinov, meaning that Bronze's pugilistic skills won't be required.

"We actually had people ringing Liverpool and asking, 'Is Lucy going to fight Tyson Fury in a charity boxing match?'" she says. "But no. He's about twice my size - although people have been saying I could use my speed against him..."

Last season's PFA Women's Player of the Year, Bronze is a Berwick girl who is looking forward to representing her country in what she refers to as “proper North” as England prepare to face Sweden.

The right-back is excited about the challenge that the legendary Pia Sundhage’s side will represent in next month's friendly.

“Sweden, in my opinion, are one of the top three teams in Europe, and probably one of the top five in the world,” she says. “Facing France and Canada [in the spring’s Cyprus Cup] - that’s given us the chance to test ourselves.”

Bronze is diplomatic about it, but because of the seeding system, England have had a straightforward route to the brink of World Cup qualification, meaning that they now need a single point from their next two competitive games after scoring 38 goals so far in their campaign.

That also means that their games have been at risk of turning into exhibitions. The 9-0 demolition of Montenegro in April, televised on the BBC, was a textbook example.

But Bronze is full of praise for new coach Mark Sampson’s methods of making the games worthwhile all round.

“Since Mark’s come in, he’s changed the way we look at it,” she explains.

“We look at different systems, different ways to defend, and we practise playing properly. Some teams might use it as a chance to score as many goals as possible, but we need to learn from it and get something out of it. We use it as an opportunity, not take it for granted.”

Under then-manager Hope Powell, England had a poor time at last summer’s European Championships.

“We got criticised during the Euros and rightly so,” reflects Bronze. “We didn’t do as well as we should have done, and that goes for the whole team - we let people down.

“The Euros showed that there’s expectation on us now. It’s not just us going along, having a go, and being told, ‘Oh, well done, girls.’ We want to win stuff. People are more interested in what we do, and that means we’ll get criticised if we’re not good enough. It’s horrible to read it, and it’s horrible to get criticism on Twitter, but as a player it’ll make you better. We know people are watching, and the pressure is on.”

Following last summer’s media interest, Bronze is hoping for more of the same next year in Canada - but with more success for England.

“A lot of people take notice of media coverage, and that’s really what’s missing from women’s football in England,” she says. “That’s what funds men’s football. If we got more media and more sponsorship, we could train more. We got lots of media coverage during the Euros, and we’re always looking for more coverage because that’s what’ll create more fans.”

In the meantime, she’ll be watching the progress of England’s other women’s teams. Katy Mclean’s England team go into the Rugby World Cup as one of the favourites for winning the tournament; and Charlotte Edwards’ ever-successful squad are about to commence a Test and one-day series against India after finishing as runners-up in the World T20 in April.

“The women’s teams in all the sports are doing well. Maybe it’s just us who haven’t done so well as we should have, but,” she concludes forcefully, “women’s sport in England is better than it gets credit for.”

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