England and Manchester United goalkeeper Mary Earps, who clinched the Golden Glove award for the best goalkeeper at the FIFA Women’s World Cup this year, has been announced as the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year for 2023.

This accolade, bestowed annually by the BBC World Service, is determined through the votes of football fans worldwide.

On winning the award, Earps said: “I am truly honoured to be BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year. Thank you so much for voting for me. To be the first goalkeeper to get their hands on the award is incredibly special and I am incredibly grateful. Hopefully, one of many more to come and thank you so much again.”

Reflecting on her career so far, Earps told the BBC: “I try to use my story as a beacon of hope for people. To show that there are better days coming. You just have to keep going and keep fighting; that looks very different to different people. I think there was a time, when no one was watching what I was doing. To work hard in silence, on your own, nobody notices what you do. It doesn’t matter what you do, apart from to yourself and your own standards. I think that is a big part of where I am today, and sort of the resilience that I’ve shown and I know there are going to be many more moments where I’m going to need that resilience.”

Earps emerged victorious from a competitive shortlist featuring prominent figures in women’s football, such as Barcelona and Spain midfielder Aitana Bonmati (second place), Australia and Chelsea striker Sam Kerr (third place), and nominees Fridolina Rolfö from Barcelona and Sweden, and Alexandra Popp, who plays for Germany and VfL Wolfsburg.

On Earps winning the award, Katie Zelem, Manchester United club captain, said: “It’s amazing. We know Mary’s qualities, we’ve seen them at England, at Manchester United. She’s kept us in many games.

“Mary brings a lot of character to the group, whether that’s in the team or outside. I think what she has done for goalkeeping has been outstanding. There is obviously a gap in the market and Mary really wants to push goalkeeping and we’re all so behind her for that.”

The BBC surprised Earps at Carrington, Manchester United’s training ground, where she was presented with the award by the club captain, Katie Zelem, and the BBC’s Maz Farookhi. Maz also shared congratulatory video messages from Sarina Wiegman, coach of the England women’s team; Fara Williams, England’s most capped player and Mary’s former teammate; and Peter Schmeichel, former Manchester United and Denmark goalkeeper.

Celebrating Mary’s win, in a message to the winner, Sarina Wiegman said: “Hi Mary, here I go again, I can congratulate you again, with the award of the Women’s Footballer of the Year. Congratulations! But you’re not done yet you know, so we have to keep going – let’s get some more. Enjoy this award, and see you soon”.

Fara Williams said: “Mary, I just wanted to congratulate you on winning BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year. Who would have thought from picking the balls out of the back of the net when we were at Reading together, for you to have gone on to achieve all that you have. You’ve had an amazing 2 years, obviously winning the Euros, qualifying for the Champions League with Manchester United. Credit to the hard work and effort that you’ve put in over the years, and never let anybody tell you that you couldn’t. So congratulations, fully deserved, and enjoy the moment.”

And Peter Schmeichel shared this message for Mary: “Hi Mary, what a great achievement for you to be named Women’s Footballer of the Year! It doesn’t happen very often to goalkeepers I have to say, being ‘player of the year’ anywhere, really. It’s always the girls or the guys who score the goals, not the ones who prevent them. But you’ve had a fantastic season and it’s so well deserved. And of course, you are making our club Manchester United so very, very proud. So keep up the good work and once again, many many congratulations.”

This marks the ninth year of the BBC Women’s Footballer Of The Year award, with previous winners including Beth Mead in 2022, Vivianne Miedema in 2021, Lucy Bronze in 2020, Ada Hegerberg in 2019, Lucy Bronze in 2018, Ada Hegerberg in 2017, Kim Little in 2016, and Asisat Oshoala in 2015.

Liliane Landor, Senior Controller of BBC News International Services and Director of the BBC World Service, expressed her delight, stating, “I am delighted that Mary Earps has won Women’s Footballer of the Year 2023. After a triumphant year for women’s football with the widespread recognition and positive coverage of the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, this BBC award feels bigger than ever. Mary, who was a remarkable talent for the England team during the tournament, is a truly worthy winner.”