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BBC Sports Personality of the Year contender: Lucy Bronze

In a year in which women's football has made incredible strides, tonight will see another record broken within the sport...

This evening, the BBC's annual Sports Personality of the Year awards will take place, and for the first time, a female footballer has been nominated: Manchester City Women's Lucy Bronze.

It's safe to say the half-English, half-Portuguese star, who joined the Blues 13 months ago, has enjoyed an unbelievable 2015.

In addition to helping her Club to a top-two finish and Champions League football, the defender also played a starring role in England Women's stunning World Cup campaign, which saw the Lionesses clinch a bronze-medal finish - the country's best performance in the competition since the men's side won it in 1966.

Bronze netted twice in the tournament - her first strike a wonderful long-range effort to defeat Norway; the other a crucial header to double the lead against the tournament hosts, Canada.

Shortlisted for the Golden Ball award for her performance, she was hailed one of the players of the tournament and was subsequently named in FIFA's All-Star Squad.

England's success attracted thousands of new fans, consequently smashing attendance records in the FA WSL and ensuring interest in women's football back home peaked.

Ever humble though, the 24-year-old insisted her nomination is reflective of the Lionesses' joint contribution.

"I don’t see it as me as an individual being nominated for an award," she declared.

"I look at it as me representing what we did in Canada and what we’ve done in the past few years and the changes we’ve made."

However, Bronze's year has already earned individual recognition, as she collected the FA Women's Player of the Year award, and her captain for Club and country Steph Houghton believes her teammate is fully deserving of the praise she is receiving. 

The skipper stated: "Our England manager Mark Sampson said Lucy can become the best right-back in the world and her chances are very realistic.

"She is very driven, and wants to be the best.

"She is great credit to herself and her family. I'm privileged to play alongside her."

@MCWFC So so pleased for @LucyBronze she totally deserves her nomination for #SPOTY #Inspirational #mcwfc #england ⚽️ 🏆👍🏼😀

— Jayne (@blueberry1894) November 30, 2015

Bronze represented her country at every level before heading to Canada with the senior squad, tasting success with the under-19s alongside Toni Duggan and Isobel Christiansen in the European Championships.

Born in Berwick-upon-Tweed, she started her career with Sunderland at academy level, making her debut for the first-team aged just 16 having captained the under-16 side.

She was named the Manager's Player of the Year in 2007/08 campaign before helping the Black Cats to Northern Division title. In 2009, she featured in the FA Women's Cup final against Arsenal and was voted Player of the Match despite finishing the game on the losing side.

The following summer, the defender earned a scholarship to North Carolina and became the first British player to win an NCAA Cup.

She then moved to Everton, making her debut in the Champions League before moving across the city to Liverpool, where she secured two consecutive title wins, more Champions League experience and was named the PFA Women's Players' Player of the Year.

She then opted to move to Manchester, highlighting the Club's ambition and professionalism as major attractions, and enjoyed a successful season with the Blues, making 16 appearances, scoring twice and playing a key role as City clinched a European spot for the first time in their history.

Again, she was a contender for Player of the Season and capped a whirlwind 12 months by gaining her first nomination for the BBC SPOTY award earlier this month.

The awards take place on Sunday 20 December in Belfast at 18:50 GMT, and will be broadcast live on BBC One.

You can vote during the show either by phone or online. If you vote online you must register to have your say. Find out how here.

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