I just read an interview with Lucy Bronze, one of the England women’s football team.

What I really like is her thinking.

It happened when England were playing Spain.

The ball struck the arm of Lucy’s teammate, Ellen White.

The Italian referee saw the handball and immediately blew for a penalty against England.

Lucy Bronze ran straight over to the referee.

She spoke calmly about what just happened.

The referee listened, nodded and reversed her decision.

No penalty was given.

Lucy Bronze later explained that, before the match, EUFA had asked the referees to brief the players.

In the meeting Lucy had been taking careful notes.

So when the ball struck Ellen White’s arm, Lucy was able to quote the referee’s words back to her.

She reminded the referee that she said a handball couldn’t be awarded when it is the result of a deflection.

In this case, the ball struck Ellen White’s thigh, then bounced up onto her arm.

So, under the rules, that wasn’t a handball.

The referee said “You are correct, I am wrong” and reversed her decision.

Can you imagine that happening in the male game?

Can you even imagine a male player taking notes in the briefing?

Of course not.

But by listening, thinking, then explaining to the referee, Lucy Bronze had saved a penalty.

Which is an almost certain goal.

So, without kicking a ball she’d effectively scored a goal for England.

That’s what I love about her thinking.

Looking for an advantage in a place nobody else was even thinking about.

Paying attention gave her team a definite advantage.

England went on to win that game 2 – 0.

Years ago, I read the same thing in the book The Perfect Storm.

The fishermen were a tough, hard-drinking, rowdy bunch.

The night before they set off, all the men spent drinking in the harbour bar.

The single female skipper, Linda Greenlaw, didn’t go drinking.

She spent the time checking and re-checking all her ship’s gear, all the weather forecasts, all the fishing reports.

The men acted as if they knew everything, she acted as if she knew nothing.

After it was over, many of the men were dead, killed by the storm.

Greenlaw and her crew not only came home safe, but with a record catch.

After that all the tough fishermen wanted to crew on her boat.

That’s the difference between a winner’s and a loser’s attitude.

The loser acts like he knows it all, he doesn’t need to pay attention.

The winner acts like she needs to learn everything she can.

So the winner is hungry for information.

The loser assumes nothing will go wrong.

The winner assumes if it can go wrong, it will go wrong.

And anything you know that the opposition doesn’t know is an advantage.

Winners don’t pay attention to other people’s opinions.

They pay attention to results.

That’s why I like Lucy Bronze’s final remark.

She was told that the Spanish team had 74% of possession, and asked if that worried her.


She said “Not really – there’s only one stat that matters.”