Lioness star Lucy Bronze‘s 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, who hails from Berwick-upon-Tweed in the north-east and is described by the 31-year-old Barcelona player 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.
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.
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
Bronze during the Women’s World Cup in Australia, taking on Colombian player Manuela Vanegas; she’s previously called her mum ‘tough’
Her mother, who has also has a son, Jorge, told the 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 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 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
Diane Bronze with her two children, including England star Lucy, and her brother Jorge
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.