In a new interview with the BBC, Mary Earps has given an insight into life as part of the Lionesses set-up since the arrival of Sarina Wiegman and how it has revitalised her footballing career.
In Emma Sanders’ report, she highlights just what an incredible couple of years Earps has had since regaining her position in the England squad, two years after being dropped by Phil Neville.
She didn’t just come back into Sarina Wiegman’s squad though, she became her number one choice between the sticks.
From contemplating retirement from international football, to winning the Euros with England, Earps is now nominated for a Fifa Best Award.
“I was blown away [to be nominated]. There aren’t loads of awards around for goalkeepers,” she says.
“I texted my mum and dad straight away. They humbly replied with just ‘well done’. It was a standard Earps family reply, super chilled. It’s really nice and the real icing on the cake.”
She added, “It doesn’t happen often and it never really happens to me so I forget [these awards] exist in a way. To be named on the shortlist, it came out of the blue, and it was really cool.”
Earps recently became the first goalkeeper in the WSL to reach 50 clean sheets and has been a saviour for Manchester United as well as England.
Reflecting on the turnaround of her fortunes in the last year she said, “Without rain you don’t get rainbows.”
“People keep asking how I’m ever going to top 2022 and I’m like, ‘I have no idea.’ It’s more about having a different perspective on things. Life’s been pretty great the last 12-18 months with everything that’s happened. The stuff we’ve achieved has been so much fun. But there is a very real dark side to this game and to life.”
She continues, “Sport is an intense window into what life looks like. Life isn’t always fantastic and you don’t always feel great. Work isn’t always amazing. I’ve experienced that in a very real way in football. I like to see it as the beauty of where I’ve been to where I am now and appreciate it that little bit more.”
In the aftermath of the Lionesses success many players had murals painted of them in their hometown or had other accolades thrown their way, becoming local heroes. Earps was no exception as a bus in her hometown of West Bridgford was named after her.
But the recognition is something that surprised her. “In general, if there’s a billboard, a striker is going to be on it. I’d been out with Alessia Russo for example and she’d get asked for a photo. That was normal.”
She continued, “It started happening to me too! I wouldn’t say I’m famous in any way but it’s nice to be recognised within my industry and the women’s football industry. To have people talk about my performances as a goalkeeper has been so fun. People would only talk about me when something had gone wrong. Now it’s nice.”
Earps credits her recent performances to the faith Sarina Wiegman has shown in her, “The reality is my life before Sarina Wiegman and my life after Sarina Wiegman is totally different.”
“I will always have the utmost respect and admiration for her. It’s about the way she has dealt with me, communicated with me and tried to get the best out of me. I had lost a lot of confidence and belief in myself before she came around. Having the floor completely taken from under you out of nowhere is something that’s really hard to process and deal with,” she continues.
Wiegman put her faith in Earps and she did not disappoint, “When Sarina came in and picked me for the squad I just thought I’d go, do my best and have no expectations. The way it all went… I could never have written it in a million years. I was just so thankful I was given an opportunity. That’s all I’ve ever wanted and Sarina gave me that.”
Not only is Earps succeeding on the pitch, she is enjoying herself again as well.
“I feel really good. I’m really enjoying my football and playing. I want that to continue. I still want to win more things but I have to keep grafting. I want to play at the highest level I possibly can.”
With United sitting top of the league and their sites set on Champions League football next year and England preparing for the World Cup, Earps is in a prime position to continue playing at the very highest level for both club and country.