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England & Man Utd goalkeeper named BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year 2023

England and Manchester United goalkeeper Mary Earps has been voted BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year.

Earps won the Golden Glove as England reached the World Cup final in August, which they lost 1-0 to Spain despite Earps saving a second-half penalty.

She also helped United finish second in the 2022-23 Women’s Super League (WSL).

“I am truly honoured,” the 30-year-old told BBC Sport. “To be the first keeper to get their hands on the award is special and I am incredibly grateful.”

Fans voted on the BBC Sport website after a five-player shortlist was selected by a large panel of experts involved in football around the world, including coaches, players, administrators and journalists.

Spain midfielder Aitana Bonmati came second in the voting, while Chelsea forward Sam Kerr finished third.

Sweden and Barcelona’s Fridolina Rolfo and Germany and Vfl Wolfsburg’s Alexandra Popp were also on the five-player shortlist.

Earps has enjoyed a stellar year for club and country and her name is now synonymous with the Lionesses.

She kept 14 clean sheets for Manchester United in 2022-23 – a WSL record – as the Red Devils achieved their highest league finish.

Earps, who came fifth in the 2023 Ballon d’Or, also made an impact off the field as she took England’s kit manufacturer Nike to task for not producing replicas of her shirt for fans to buy during the World Cup.

“To be honest, I thought Bonmati might take it. I mean, what a player,” she said.

“There has been a lot that has happened this year. Obviously, we’ve had the World Cup. We’ve had everything that’s gone on with the goalkeeper shirts. I’ve had the whole goalkeeper union behind me, it seemed like. Not even just that, just incredible support from the public and many people.

“Last year was an incredible season for United. I think it’s been an incredible year, an incredible couple of years. I’m just trying to make the most of everything really.”

England boss Sarina Wiegman said in a video: “Hi Mary, here I go again. I can congratulate you again with the award for women’s world footballer of the year. Congratulations, but you’re not done yet. You have to keep going – get some more. Enjoy this award.”

A key figure in England’s successful 2022 European Championship campaign, Earps helped the national side build on that momentum as she started all seven fixtures at the 2023 World Cup, keeping three clean sheets and being voted winner of the Golden Glove for the best goalkeeper at the tournament.

Earps saved a Jenni Hermoso penalty in the final against Spain but the Lionesses fell to a 1-0 defeat in Sydney.

After a two-year England absence between November 2019 and September 2021, Earps considered retiring from international football but has since established herself as one of the world’s top goalkeepers.

“I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, the sort of things I went through, but I try to use my story as a beacon of hope for people – to show that there are better days coming,” Earps said.

“You just have to keep going and keep fighting. That looks very different to different people – everyone has their own battles and their own stories.

“I think what is incredible is how many people have reached out to me and shared their own stories through that. It’s been really great. Long may it continue.”

BBC graphic of Mary Earps' achievements

Earps is the fourth Briton to win the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year award, following in the footsteps of two-time winner Lucy Bronze, Beth Mead in 2022 and 2016 victor Kim Little.

The Nottingham-born goalkeeper featured in all 22 of Manchester United’s WSL fixtures in 2022-23 and has started each of their seven league outings this campaign.

Upon receiving the award, Earps was also sent congratulatory messages by the most-capped Lioness Fara Williams and former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel.

“That is really special, I’m a bit shocked by that,” Earps said of the messages. “It is incredible to hear those things. I think as British people, we don’t always express the way we celebrate things sometimes. I don’t think we’re always that forthcoming, so to hear words like that from incredible people and what they’ve all achieved is unbelievable. That means a great deal.

“[Schmeichel] is right. It [major awards] doesn’t often go to the goalkeepers. I think that is what is really special about hearing those messages from goalkeepers, or having the support of the goalkeepers’ union. I suppose we’re all really rooting for the other goalkeepers to do well. So yeah, that is really nice! Obviously he has got a fantastic legacy in general, but also at the club, so that’s really special.”

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