Lucy Bronze admits ‘difficult’ injury still a problem as she plays through the pain for England

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·4-min read
Lucy Bronze admits ‘difficult’ injury still a problem as she plays through the pain for England
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Lucy Bronze has admitted she is playing through the pain for England and does not feel like the player she was two years ago, despite a decisive performance in the European Championship semi-final win over Sweden.

Bronze, 30, was named FIFA’s best women’s player in the world in 2019 and was nominated for the Ballon d’Or during her pomp with Lyon.

The right back had a knee operation last year, the fifth surgery of her career, and has not been as explosive since, although she joined all-conquering Barcelona after her Manchester City contract expired last month.

Bronze rolled back the years in England’s 4-0 drubbing of Sweden, crossing for Beth Mead to open the scoring and doubling England’s lead with a header, as the Lionesses set up a meeting with either France or Germany at Wembley on Sunday.

“It’s been difficult to come back from a knee injury which has lingered for a very long time and still is now,” Bronze said at Bramall Lane.

“I’ve just got to play through [the pain]. There are plenty of players who are having to play through pain in their career and I’m now one of them.

“Everyone keeps saying [I’m the same player] but I don’t feel like I did a couple of years ago. The Lucy Bronze of a couple of years ago was ‘the best player in the world’!

“I’m still happy to be contributing to the team, still playing good football, obviously getting an assist for Beth and getting her up there to get the Golden Boot. It would be nice to be part of her little individual journey and score an important goal that kind of finished the game off.

“The goals and assists are not something I consider a major part of my game,” Bronze added. “I’d much rather the likes of Beth and Ellen [White] and Hempo [Lauren Hemp] get on the scoresheet. I enjoyed it though. I’ve not scored in a Euros, This is my first European goal. I’ve only scored in World Cups.”

Bronze is playing in her fifth major tournament and started England’s semi-final defeats in Euro 2017 and the last two World Cups.

The Lionesses showed no signs of baggage in Sheffield, with Alessia Russo adding a third goal with a sublime backheel and Fran Kirby completing the scoring.

“For players like myself, Ellen and Fran who’ve experienced a lot of semi-final defeats, it’s nice get over those defeats and get over the line and finally get ourselves in the final,” Bronze said.

“But it’s certainly not job done though. I think anyone I’ve spoken to before the tournament knows I was always focussed on wanting to win the final. Now we’ve every chance of doing that. That was a job we came here to do and now we’ve got ourselves in the best position to do that.”

Lucy Bronze doubled England’s lead against Sweden shortly after half-time (Getty Images)
Lucy Bronze doubled England’s lead against Sweden shortly after half-time (Getty Images)

England head coach Sarina Wiegman led her native Netherlands to glory in the last Euros on home soil and is now one game away from repeating the feat.

Bronze says Wiegman’s calmness and attention to detail have made the difference this summer, and described her No2 Arjan Veurink as a “tactical genius”.

“In a home Euros, there’s a lot of emotion and a lot of support, we don’t want to get carried away too much and she [Wiegman] is one of those people that is very process driven,” Bronze said.

“Obviously she’s been through the process many times before, making the finals. She probably knows better than anyone.

“I think that [calmness] has made the difference in the finals now. I think that being Dutch, she’s to the point. She tries not to get carried away. It’s quite funny that pretty much everyone in the whole of Holland said they’ve never seen Sarina Wiegman jump around like she did after the Spain game. I think she said herself that the Spanish performance [in the quarter-final] was one of the best she’d ever seen.

“To overcome that was amazing not just for the team but for her as a manager and coach as well. Yes, she’s very level-headed.

“She’s had a lot of input in small details she wants to change. But to be honest I think a lot of that is her assistant Arjen who she also brought from the Dutch team. I don’t think they must like us very much because we brought two of their best coaches – not just Sarina!

“Sarina gets the headlines but Arjen’s a tactical genius as well. They’re both very calm, very focussed with the information they gave us and I think that shows in the way that we play.”

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