Mary Earps opens up on 'personal struggles' with bullying for first time

The Nottingham-born Lionesses star Mary Earps has opened up about her "personal struggles" dealing with bullying for the first time. The England goalkeeper says she had to move schools after the amount of bullying she faced at secondary left her enthusiasm for learning "faded and dimmed."

The 31-year-old, who grew up in West Bridgford, played every minute of the seven matches contested by the Lionesses in the 2023 World Cup. Despite a rousing run-up to August's final, England ended up just missing out on glory after a 1-0 defeat to Spain.

Although heading back from Australia without any silverware, the Lionesses received widespread national acclaim following the tournament for getting England to a World Cup final for the first time since 1966. For Mary in particular, accolades have included the Golden Glove award for her World Cup performances and being named England Women's Player of the Year for the 2022/23 season.

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The goalkeeper was also honoured with an MBE in the New Year Honours List and even had an NET tram named after her. Yet in a new interview with the BBC, Mary has spoken about the difficulties she faced at school.

The interview has been filmed as part of Children in Need's new campaign, 'The Heaviest Backpack', which aims to highlight how some children "walk around with the weight of the world on their shoulders." Mary says in the interview: "I struggled really when I was going into secondary school. I moved around schools a little bit and my first secondary school, I didn't have a good experience of at all.

"I struggled to find my feet, struggled to find friends, I had a lot of instances where I didn't understand maybe why things were happening in a certain way and I definitely experienced bullying - 100%."

Mary says examples of the bullying she faced included being constantly chased around the school and having Blu Tack thrown in her hair. Mary adds: "I've not spoken very much about my own personal struggles growing up as a teenager and what I experienced. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to lead by example and show young boys and girls that everybody goes through hard times.

"Even if you look up to people and you think they're invincible and you look at their lives and you think that it's perfect - it's definitely not. Everybody's fighting battles that you don't know about or has fought them previously."