Millie Bright has developed into one of the leaders of the Chelsea Women’s side and become a regular England international since joining the club in 2014.
Bright signed for the Blues from Doncaster Rovers Belles, where she had worked with assistant manager Paul Green, and it was no time at all before she was forming one half of the most physically imposing midfields in the league alongside Katie Chapman. By the end of her first campaign with the club she had won both the WSL1 and Women’s FA Cup, featuring in 26 of a possible 28 fixtures and making her debut in the Champions League.
She went from strength to strength in her second campaign, starting more matches than any other player and excelling in a number of different roles. Whether asked to play in her regular midfield role, at centre-half or in either full-back position, Bright’s form never fluctuated and this was recognised by her peers as she was voted the Chelsea Players’ Player of the Year to go along with the Young Player of the Year award she retained.
Having shone at Under-23s level for England and captained the side, full international recognition came in the autumn of 2016 when she was awarded her first cap for the Lionesses in a 2-0 win over Belgium in September. Two months later she was named England Young Player of the Year, capping an excellent year.
A new three-and-a-half year contract followed at the start of 2017 and it was just the beginning of an excellent year for a player who has made a marked improvement in each campaign as a Blue. Bright was a near-permanent fixture in the side as the left-sided defender in a back three as we conceded only five goals in all competitions by the end of 2017 Spring Series, and she also netted twice herself to underline her threat from attacking set-pieces.
Having forced her way into the England reckoning at the tail-end of 2016, Bright then displaced former Blues centre-half Laura Bassett in the team for the 2017 Euros and she started every game in the Lionesses' run to the semi-finals, earning a mark of nine out of 10 for her performances at the tournament from the BBC Sport website.
That form continued in 2017/18 when she once again excelled at both club and international level. Her 33 starts in all competitions were more than any other player made as she missed only four matches all season as the Blues boasted the most miserly defence in the English top flight, conceding only 13 goals. She scored a vital one of her own in our 2-2 draw against Manchester City, rattling in an absolute screamer from inside the box, as well as netting a less crucial goal in our 10-0 win over London Bees in the FA Cup.
Bright’s form was recognised outside of Chelsea, too, as she was one of five Blues nominated for the PFA Women’s Player of the Year award. Although she missed out to team-mate Fran Kirby, a spot in the Team of the Year was a welcome consolation prize.
A talented horse rider in her youth, Bright joined Doncaster from the Sheffield United Centre of Excellence in 2009 and progressed through the England junior ranks to under-23 level. At Doncaster she was shortlisted for the FA Women’s Super League 2 Player of the Year award in 2014 having excelled for the Belles as they narrowly missed out on promotion.