Lucy Bronze has revealed she went through pain during England’s Euro 2022 campaign due to the lingering effects of her knee problem.
As Bronze scored a goal and netted another at Bramall Lane on Tuesday as the tournament hosts secured a place in the final with a 4-0 win over Sweden, the 2020 FIFA Women’s Player of the Year admits that she “doesn’t feel like me. A few years ago”.
The 30-year-old full-back, who left Manchester City in the summer to join Barcelona, underwent knee surgery just under a year ago after playing for Great Britain at the Tokyo Olympics, before to return to action in January.
And Bronze said: “It’s been difficult to recover from a knee injury that lasted a very long time and is still going on today.
“I just have to play through it. There are a lot of players who have to play through the pain in their careers and now I’m one of them.”
When told it doesn’t show on the pitch, Bronze said: “Everybody keeps saying that, but I don’t feel like I did that a few years ago. The Lucy Bronze of a few years ago was ‘the best player in the world’!
“I’m always happy to contribute to the team, always play good football, obviously get Beth (Mead) an assist and get her up there to get the Golden Boot.”
Bronze: Definitely not finished
Bronze handed the ball to Mead when she scored the opener in the 34th minute, her sixth goal of the tournament. The tables then turned shortly after half-time as Bronze headed into Mead’s corner to make it 2-0.
Substitute Alessia Russo, with a fantastic back heel effort, and Fran Kirby added further goals as England did an emphatic job of avoiding a fourth consecutive semi-final exit at a major tournament.
Bronze said: “For players like me and Ellen (White) and Fran who have suffered many defeats in the semi-finals, it’s good to overcome them, to cross the line and to finally meet in the final.
“It’s definitely not the job done. I think everyone I spoke to before the tournament knows that I was always focused on wanting to win the final. Now we have every chance to do it. It was a job we came here to do. And now we’re in the best position to do it.”
Victory in Sunday’s Wembley final against either Germany or France will bring the Lionesses the first major trophy in their history.
It would also be back-to-back Euros success for boss Sarina Wiegman, who guided her native Netherlands to home glory in the 2017 edition, and then oversaw them by finishing runners-up at the 2019 World Cup.
Since Wiegman took charge of England in September, the team have gone unbeaten in 19 matches, winning 17, with 104 goals scored and only four conceded.
Bronze said: “She’s had a lot of comments about the little details she wants to change – but to be honest I think a lot of it is her assistant Arjan (Veurink) who she also brought in from there. Dutch team.
“I don’t think they must like us very much because we brought in two of their best coaches – not just Sarina! Sarina is making headlines, but Arjan is also a tactical genius.
“They are both very calm, very focused on the information they gave us and I think it shows in the way we play.
“I think in a home Euro there’s a lot of emotion and a lot of support, we don’t want to get carried away too much and she’s one of those people who is very process-oriented. She’s very excited but once the match is over we are on to the next match.
“We don’t get carried away by our emotions, but on and off the pitch we always enjoy the game and always enjoy the moment at the right time.
“Obviously she’s been through the process many times before, reaching the final. She probably knows that better than anyone.”