'She's a freak of nature!' Lucy Bronze's former coach celebrates as Lionesses make World Cup final

Lucy Bronze has been one of England's most important players at the World Cup, starting in each of the Lionesses' six matches. Credit: PA

Lucy Bronze's former football coach was among thousands celebrating as the right-back helped England to the World Cup final.

The right-back from Berwick in Northumberland has been an integral part of the Lionesses' success in Australia and New Zealand, starting each of the team's six matches in their run to the final.

She was once again crucial as the Lionesses 3-1 win over Australia to secure their place in Sunday's showpiece against Spain.

Bronze's former football coach Ray Smith was among those watching on as Alnwick Town opened up their clubhouse for the game and could barely hide his pride.

"I knew she was special," he said. "It will probably never happen again someone like Lucy, she is a special footballer. She's a freak of nature!

"You wouldn't dream that a local player from this area would reach the heights she has. It's absolutely fantastic. It will never happen again."

Bronze lived in Alnwick while she was growing up, joining the Alnwick Town junior team until she was 12 when she was forced to move on as she was not allowed to continue with the boys' team at that age.

She also captained the football team at the Duchess Community High School in Alnwick, which has recently named its sports hall after her.

Mr Smith explained Bronze's impact is still felt in Alnwick and she regularly returns to help out with her childhood club.

"The club is absolutely amazed at Lucy, she comes back and she helps them out and she's down to earth," he said. "She's just like one of the family.

"Since Lucy played the club has just taken off. You go down the street now and every girl has got a Lucy Bronze top on. She's made football take off at this club. It is just fantastic, everybody loves her."

Lucy Bronze celebrates after England's 3-1 win over Australia. Credit: PA

Bronze plays for Spanish giants Barcelona in club football and as such will become even more important to England's preparations for the final. All but one of La Roja's squad play in Spain's top division, Liga F, with Bronze and Lionesses' team-mate Kiera Walsh able to provide in-depth analysis of what it is like to play against them.

Following the semi-final Bronze confirmed that her family would be there to watch her, having booked ahead in advance.

"The one thing I've always wanted to do is get to a World Cup final," Bronze told BBC Sport after the full-time whistle.

"After two times of such disappointment [two consecutive semi-final defeats], I can't believe it.

"We all dreamed of being in the final, all our family and friends have booked to stay here until then because they all believed in us. It's been amazing to play against Australia, in Australia, what a fantastic tournament they had but we're in the final."

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