Alex Greenwood W11 1

Alex Greenwood: "I’m excited for where the game will be when I finish playing"

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Alex Greenwood W11 1
  • The Manchester City and England defender made her debut in the FIFA FIFPRO Women’s World 11 in January

  • The 30-year-old talks being voted into the 2023 team of the year by her peers, the growth of the women’s game and where it still needs to go

  • "It's important we allow women more opportunities, whether that be on TV, refereeing, coaching or playing," says Greenwood

She may not have been a starter for England during their UEFA Women’s EURO triumph in 2022, but Alex Greenwood established herself as one of the world’s best defenders in 2023.

Greenwood’s stand-out performances at Australia & New Zealand 2023, where she was ever-present in England’s backline as they reached their first Women’s World Cup final, caught the attention of her fellow professionals who voted her into the FIFA FIFPRO Women’s World 11 for the first time.

"It’s probably the highest honour you can get," Greenwood, reflecting on the peer vote, told FIFPRO. "As players, we all go through the same thing every day: we train, we compete at the same level. For them to recognise you as one of the best is something you don't take lightly. It’s a proud moment for me, to think that players thought that of me. It’s an incredible feeling."

Greenwood, a former left-back who has transitioned into a left-sided centre-back, was one of seven Lionesses voted into the team of the year by over 6,000 women’s footballers.

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Seven England players were voted into the FIFA FIFPRO Women's World 11

Though English players such as Greenwood, Mary Earps, Lauren James, Alessia Russo and Ella Toone were all making their World 11 debut, the 2023 edition marked Lucy Bronze’s sixth time in the team of the year – a feat only bettered by all-time record-holder Wendie Renard (7).

"She's a complete winner. She's a great professional and the best way I can describe Lucy is that she wants to win everything," Greenwood said of her international team-mate Bronze. "She wants to achieve everything, whether that's a race in training or a game. She’s incredibly competitive and a fantastic person who has done so many great things for the game."

Greenwood’s glimpse of game’s growth

Now 30, Greenwood has played professional football arguably during the most significant growth period for the women’s game. The Liverpool-born defender made her debut for Everton in 2010, a month before her 17th birthday, when England’s top-flight was the FA Women’s Premier League, a year before the launch of the Women’s Super League.

One example that captures the growth of the women’s game in England over the last decade: the 2013 Women’s FA Cup final, held in Doncaster, Yorkshire, had a capacity that failed to surpass the 5,000 mark; fast forward to 2023 and the Women’s FA Cup final, now regularly played at Wembley Stadium, attracted a crowd of over 77,000.

On the international scene, the 2023 Women’s World Cup final amassed record viewing figures for women's football, bringing down the curtain on a competition that drew a record number of fans at stadiums – over 1.9 million.

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Alex Greenwood at the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup

"The growth is incredible from when I started – when it was just turning professional – to now, where we're selling out stadiums every week and had the best tournament we've ever seen in women's football, the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, that arguably had the highest calibre of talent," said Greenwood, a veteran of three Women’s World Cups.

"In terms of where it needs to go, it’s about having more female figures present. It's important that we allow women more opportunities, whether that be on TV, refereeing, coaching or playing; it’s important that the opportunities are there for women to take part in that."

Since her career began in 2010 with Everton, Greenwood’s footballing journey has taken her to the game’s top clubs such as Liverpool, Manchester United, Olympique Lyonnais and Manchester City, not to mention savouring victory at international level numerous times – from the Women’s EURO title to the Finalissima.

While there is undoubtedly still more to come on that journey, Greenwood admits that preparing for life after football is starting to come into the conversation.

"I'm at an age where I have to think about life away from football now so, for me personally, I'm excited, but maybe not ready just now to think of what life looks like after football," said the 30-year-old. "It's about preparing yourself for when that moment comes and I still think I've got a lot to give to the game before then, but I am excited for where the game will be and what it will look like when I eventually come to finish."

Until that day comes, Greenwood will continue to have one thing on her mind when taking to the pitch for club and country: winning. "I love winning. I love the feeling of winning. You train from Monday to Saturday every week with the objective to win on the weekend. When you do that and you're successful in it, there's no better feeling."

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Alex Greenwood