Lucy Bronze has only just touched down in England after playing her part in a memorable World Cup campaign – but she insists the whole squad need to return to club football as soon as possible to maintain the surge of momentum for the women’s game.
The former Sunderland right-back, who is now with Manchester City, was nominated for player of the tournament as Mark Sampson’s Lionesses finished third following a 1-0 extra-time play-off victory against Germany on Saturday.
I think we have created this bit of momentum with the women’s game so it is only right we carry it on.
Bronze, who both scored a memorable goal against Norway to ensure England’s progression into the quarter-finals and added the second in the last-eight win over the hosts, returned home with the rest of the squad early this morning.
But, despite starting all but one of England’s seven games at the tournament, the 23-year-old is raring to play for City when they take on Birmingham in the Women’s Super League on Sunday.
“Definitely. I’m not missing out,” she said when asked if she would be available for City’s next game.
“I love playing football and cant wait (to play again). I know we have just landed and what not and we’ll have a few days off but I just can’t wait to get back into training whether that’s for City, the club or by myself. I love it and can’t wait to play again at the weekend.
“I think some of the girls would like a bit of a rest, they have been doing it a long time. For me it is my first tournament so it was disappointing but I know there is more to come and I can’t wait to get better for the next one.
“Some of the other girls are probably exhausted because it is such a relief to finally come away having done something at a tournament. They might be overblown with emotion whereas as I’m raring to go – it has just spurred me on for the next one.”
Not only is she desperate to get back onto the pitch as soon as possible but, given the spike in popularity of the women’s game as the country backed their progress in Canada, the former Liverpool defender believes it is crucial for the star names to been seen closer to home.
“I think we have created this bit of momentum with the women’s game so it is only right we carry it on,” she said.
“The league is the perfect place to do that, we all play in the league and it has got good coverage. If we did go and have a little break people might forget.
“It is good that we are straight back in, some of the girls might be a bit tired and not enjoy it but, looking at the bigger picture, they will be happy to do it.”
The Football Association was criticised on the Lionesses’ return after its official England Twitter account referred to the players coming home to “go back to being mothers, partners and daughters”.
The tweet was swiftly deleted after critical responses branded it patronising to the professional players.
The post on the @england Twitter account said: “Our #Lionesses go back to being mothers, partners and daughters today, but they have taken on another title - heroes.”
FA insiders said immediate action was taken to change the tweet which was “unfortunately phrased” and was aimed at flagging up the fact the players were returning to their families in Britain after more than a month away.
Certainly the turn-out of supporters gathered at Heathrow at 7:30am this morning to welcome home the Lionesses showed that the team have achieved their goal of garnering more interest in their game – and Bronze admits she will feel proud if she played any part in inspiring a young female to take up football.
“Yes, we went to the World Cup to try and win it but we wanted to do it to inspire the nation,” she added.
“We had two goals hand in hand and we completed one but fell up short with actually winning it. We know it is important and part of our job.
“We might not reap the benefits, it might be in 10 years’ time when the women’s game is just as big as the men’s and we know we are just part of the ladder and the next step to do that.
“We know that is our job and are happy to take part in that – if that means that some girl in 10 years time is going to be the best player in the world and she is English, I will be proud to say I played a part in that.”