“Pinch me, it don’t feel real.” Mary Earps, Paris, February 2023
European Championship winner, two-time Arnold Clark Cup winner, the first ‘keeper to reach fifty clean sheets in the Women’s Super League, and now, Nottingham-born, Manchester United shot-stopper, Mary Earps, has been named the best in the world.
The Lionesses number one, who was born in our beloved county, and began her playing career with West Bridgford Colts, as well as having a brief spell (2010-11) with Nottingham Forest, has certainly enjoyed herself the past twelve months.
What odds on her lifting aloft the Women’s World Cup this coming summer? And with it, more dancing on the post-match press conference tables?
In February 2022, Earps was part of the squad that lifted the Arnold Clark Cup for the first time, seeing off the challenges of Canada (drew 1-1), Spain (drew 0-0), and Germany (won 3-1), before starring in the European Championships, on home soil.
There, whilst being named in the Team of the Tournament, the 29-year-old shot-stopper would keep FOUR clean-sheets (in six outings), seeing off that of Austria (1-0), Norway (8-0), Northern Ireland (5-0), Spain (2-1 aet), Sweden (4-0), and Germany (3-1 aet) in ‘that’ now famous, final.
In mid-January, 2023, Earps would make WLS history by keeping her 50th clean sheet, it coming in the 1-0 win against one of her former clubs, Reading.
Then, just this past month, the Lionesses, led by Earps and her stingy defence, successfully defended the Arnold Clark, she keeping another clean-sheet, this time in the 4-0, opening defeat of South Korea, before seeing off that of Italy (2-1) and Belgium (6-1).
With her honours list, both individually, and with either club or country, the Nottinghamshire favourite was, this past week, named as ‘The Best FIFA Goalkeeper,’ following in the footsteps of past winners, Sari van Veenendaal (2019), Sarah Bouhaddi (2020), and Christiane Endler (2021).
Of that trio of past winners, the 2021 victor, Christiane Endler (Chile & Lyon), was also a finalist, alongside Anna Katrina-Berger (Chelsea & Germany); Earps taking the main award with Endler being named in the World XI.
(England Head Coach Sarina Wiegman, took home the ‘Best FIFA Women’s Coach,’ whilst fellow Lionesses, Lucy Bronze and Leah Williamson, Kiera Walsh and Beth Mead, were named in the ‘FIFA Women’s World XI’).
Afterwards, on winning the award, Earps took to her social media and said, simply: “Special night in Paris! Blown away that I’m packing this trophy in my luggage for the flight home tomorrow — pinch me, it don’t feel real.”
Keep up-to-date with all things Mary Earps via her Facebook.
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @FIFAcom the trophy in safe hands with the world’s best goalkeeper.