England’s World Cup captain Millie Bright mentioned she was “gobsmacked” to study she was being made an OBE within the New Year Honours List, and was initially nervous that the letter confirming the accolade was a parking nice.
Bright leads a trio of Lionesses to be recognised after the workforce’s march to the World Cup remaining in August, with goalkeeper Mary Earps and ahead Lauren Hemp being made MBEs.
The 30-year-old Chelsea defender, who acquired engaged to her associate Levi Crew on Christmas Day whereas on vacation in Mauritius, was elated to obtain the OBE however feared the worst to start with.
Asked for her response to the information, she instructed PA: “Gobsmacked. It’s something you never imagined, something that never crossed my mind.
“Levi opened the letter for me because I was at training. He saw what it was straight away and he was like ‘oh my God, I’ve got to tell her’. So he sent me a message saying ‘you’ve got a letter, it’s really important’.
“I thought ‘oh God, what have I done? Am I in trouble again? It’s probably a parking fine or something like that.
“It’s something that you treasure forever and you can tell your kids and grandkids (about). It’s something to be proud of.
“Everyone in my family sacrificed so much for me to be where I am. So whenever I win anything, or get awarded something, it really is for more than just me. That’s why I love playing in a team sport, because without everyone else you wouldn’t be the person or the player you are.”
Bright, from Killamarsh in north Derbyshire, admitted 2023 had featured loads of ups and downs.
A knee damage suffered in March threatened to rule her out of the World Cup and meant she missed the run-in as her membership gained a fourth successive Women’s Super League title.
Ultimately she recovered and skippered the Lionesses within the absence of Euro 2022 captain Leah Williamson, who suffered an anterior cruciate ligament damage.
“It was 50-50 making the World Cup,” she mentioned.
“You never know how rehab is going to go, you never know how your injury is going to react. I actually had a really hard rehab – I couldn’t get rid of the swelling, the knee was taking so long to recover and to be able to stay in that mindset that I was going to make it was really hard.
“Then obviously after (the World Cup) coming back into the league, the knee flaring up again and having to take time out again. Everything comes at a price and I’d do it all again – I’d rush back for another World Cup if I needed to and pay the price later.
“Overall the year has been incredible – winning trophies, leading the girls out in a World Cup final. There are moments that come once in a lifetime and you never know when you’re going to get the next moment. That’s the thing with football, nothing’s granted, but that’s part of the chase. Hopefully 2024 brings the same, if not better.”
Bright’s England team-mate Hemp got here inside inches of being the hero within the remaining in opposition to Spain, hitting the crossbar in a match England misplaced 1-0.
The Manchester City star, who scored a significant equaliser in first-half damage time within the quarter-final in opposition to Colombia, mentioned she felt “very privileged and honoured” by the MBE.
“It’s a huge achievement not only for me, but my family and everyone who loves our beautiful game. It’s been an incredible few years,” she mentioned in a press release.
“I’d like to dedicate my MBE to everyone that has supported me in my career so far, and everyone behind the scenes for continuing to push boundaries to get women’s football to where it is today.”
Earps loved a stellar 12 months too, saving a penalty within the remaining to maintain England within the sport and serving to her membership Manchester United end second within the WSL.
She additionally earned plaudits for calling out sportswear producer Nike over its failure to supply England goalkeeper reproduction kits, and earlier this month gained the general public vote to be named the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year.