She’s a star-right back that’s helped England secure their spot in the World Cup Final – and Lucy Bronze has certainly been helped along the way by a very supportive family.
The 31-year-old Barcelona player began playing football with her brother – Jorge – as a child.
The pair kicked the ball around in their parents back garden in rural Northumberland – before Lucy outgrew him. ‘From a young age, we were both competitive,’ he previously told the Daily Mail.
‘We played everywhere: back garden, in the street, local fields, at school. Anywhere there was a ball and a surface, we’d play.’
But it wasn’t long before Lucy, then 12, started showing her big brother up.
Lucy Bronze has certainly been helped along the way by a very supportive family. Diane Bronze with her two children, including England star Lucy, and her brother Jorge
Two decades have passed since Jorge Bronze was kicking a ball around his parents’ back garden in rural Northumberland with his little sister Lucy. The pair are pictured together
‘Lucy always had the edge,’ Jorge admitted. ‘She played on the boys’ team as that’s all that was available back then, and there were often comments [about her gender] from other teams.
‘But those comments soon ceased after she started scoring hat-tricks against them. She won player of the season multiple times over. Her drive in particular started to show at an early age.’
Speaking exclusively to the Mail, Jorge, 33, a risk manager who lives in Sheffield with his wife and two children, says he and Lucy spurred each other on as kids.
‘Lucy and I were born 22 months apart, so we grew up together very closely. We were both athletically gifted, playing any sport we possibly could and always making a competition of it.’
But football didn’t run in the family. ‘My mother had never watched a minute of football and my dad is one of the least coordinated people you could meet,’ Jorge says.
Lucy (pictured) was seen watching the children with a smile on her face, and was seen posing for a photo with them.
Bronze was seen crouching and posing for a photo with her adorable niece and nephew
‘However he was a very good runner and she was a talented badminton player. Thankfully, we got his fitness and her coordination.’
Once, on a family holiday in North Carolina, the pair attended football camp together. Jorge recalls: ‘She was the youngest – just 12 at the time – and the staff selected her to do special training with the elites. It was clear she was going to be a great sportsperson.’
Meanwhile, their mum has revealed she didn’t know anything about football – until the moment she was told her daughter was no longer allowed to play for a boy’s club as an 11-year-old.
Diane Bronze appeared on Woman’s Hour this week to discuss how hard it was to find a girls club for her daughter – now one of the game’s biggest stars – in England in the 90s
Diane Bronze, who hails from Berwick-upon-Tweed in the north-east and is described by the her daughter as ‘tough’, told Woman’s Hour she then made it her mission to find her a girls club for her daughter in the early 90s so she could continue to play the sport she’s since excelled in.
Diane met Lucy’s dad, who is Portuguese, in Faro.
Bronze, who has been voted FIFA’s player of the year and helped propel the Lionesses to victory at Wembley in the Euros in 2022, was told by the manager of a football team close to where she grew up that the club was ‘boys only’ after the age of 11.
She told BBC Radio 4 show’s presenter Nuala McGovern: ‘I tell everyone I knew nothing [about football] until she was 11, when they said she can’t play because she’s a girl.’
She told the BBC Radio 4 show’s presenter Nuala McGovern that she had little interest in the game until sexism reared its head, and then she became determined to keep her daughter playing
Bronze during the Women’s World Cup in Australia, taking on Colombian player Manuela Vanegas; she’s previously called her mum ‘tough’
She said her response was: ‘Don’t tell me my daughter can’t do something because she’s a girl’ and she began researching football clubs where Bronze would be accepted.
She explained: ‘Before that, I took her to things, I always took her to tennis, swimming and football, and whatever I needed her to take her to but it never crossed my mine that [being a girl] was an issue, until I was told she wasn’t allowed to play for the boys team at the end of the street.
She added: ‘I had to do a lot of research to find somewhere she could go to play with girls.’
A league title winner in three different countries, a Champions League winner with two different clubs, Lucy Bronze is arguably this country’s most decorated player.
The World Cup is the one trophy that has eluded her so far but her dream of lifting it with England almost took a twist, after she fell out of favour with the national team.
Bronze qualifies for Portugal through her father and seriously considered switching allegiance after being overlooked by former manager Hope Powell.
‘Portugal got in touch when I was 16,’ said Bronze in 2019. ‘I turned around and said to my mum: “If I don’t make the England team before my 22nd birthday, I’m off to play for Portugal.”’
Thankfully for England, it did not come to that. Bronze made her debut in 2013, just before her 22nd birthday, and was part of the squad that went to the European Championship that year, though she did not play.
Also pitchside cheering on Bronze is her niece and nephew.
Niece, Alzira, and nephew, Alfred, were seen jumping up and down in circles in a nearly-empty Stadium Australia after the historic game.
The adorable pair, whose father is Lucy’s brother Jorge, were seen sporting matching England football tops that had ‘Bronze’ and the number she plays under, 2, emblazoned on the back.