'I don't believe him!' – Bronze plays down Neville's 'best in the world' claims
The England manager believes his right-back should win this year’s Ballon d’Or, but the Lyon star refuses to agree with the compliment
England right-back Lucy Bronze says she “doesn’t believe” Phil Neville when he says that she is the best player in the world.
Neville has claimed it for most of his time in charge of the Lionesses, and sang her praises again after the Women’s World Cup quarter-final 3-0 victory over Norway in which Bronze scored and assisted.
“She should win the Ballon d’Or,” he told the press. “She’s the best player in the world.”
But Bronze refuses to believe her manager, saying: “It’s a lovely compliment to receive, although I don’t believe him.”
Asked who is the best player in the world then, the 27-year-old was quick in her response: “In terms of football talent and football ability, Dzsenifer Marozsan.
“This tournament, you’ve not seen the best of her because she got injured in the first 10 minutes in the first game and struggled to get back to fitness to play [for Germany] against Sweden.
“She’s someone that I’m really good friends with and I’m gutted for her. In terms of football talent and ability, you rarely see players like that.
“I think the only player I could really compare her to who I played with or against is Kelly Smith,” Bronze continued, raving about her Lyon team-mate.
“She’s just got so much raw talent that I’ll never be able to hit a ball like she does, unfortunately for me.
“But I say that to her and she’s like, ‘Yes but Lucy I’ll never be as physically dominant as you’.
“When I think about best players in the world, I always think about these tricky, skilful [players] and I’m just more of a direct, physical player.
“I love Marozsan. For me, I’ve watched her for a long time, she’s got to be one of the most talented, definitely.”
Bronze will be marking another of the world’s best on Tuesday, with Megan Rapinoe to be running at her as England take on the United States in their World Cup semi-final clash.
But when asked if she will be more reserved in her attacking to deal with the American, the defender was bullish.
“I’m not going to change the way I play. The only reason I’ll change the way I play is when I get old and my legs give up on me,” she said.
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“I can’t imagine that Rapinoe’s going to change the way she plays just because I run up and down.
“I think that’s what top teams do. You need to stick to the way you play.
“You can adapt a little and, I’ve adapted throughout the tournament, my game’s been a little bit different every game,” Bronze admitted. “But I don’t think Phil will ever be able to keep me still and stood on the half way line.
“That’s just not me. For me, I’ll play the normal game that I always want to play, full of energy, joining in attacks, joining in defence, and working hard for the team.”
After the USA beat hosts France in the last round, England’s No. 2 is hoping to have the backing of a lot of her team-mates at Lyon, who were on the wrong end of that 2-1 result.
“A lot of people at Lyon have text me over the past two days – they didn’t text at the start of the tournament, but since France have gone, they’ve sent me a few messages!
“I’ve had a few messages from the last few days from a lot of the Lyon staff, saying good luck, beat the United States for us.
“So I think we have a few more supporters than we normally have.”
England face the United States in the last four of the Women’s World Cup on Tuesday 2 July, with kick-off 8pm BST (3pm ET) at the Stade de Lyon.