Mary Earps celebrates with the Golden Glove following England's World Cup final defeatMary Earps has picked up the Golden Glove in the last two major tournaments with England

It was not the ending she deserved but Mary Earps rightly celebrated her Golden Glove award, holding it aloft and taking applause, after England’s Women’s World Cup final defeat by Spain.

England’s number one had done everything in her power to try to bring the World Cup trophy home - including saving Jenni Hermoso’s penalty in the final - but it was not enough.

The 30-year-old has had a remarkable international career, going from being an outcast and on the brink of retirement, to emerging as one of the most globally recognised goalkeepers in women’s football.

While England fell short at the final hurdle, Earps’ performances throughout the tournament confirmed her status as the world’s best goalkeeper.

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‘She’s the best for a reason’

She made key saves in almost every game, keeping three clean sheets en route to the final and picking up the Player of the Match award after starring in England’s penalty shootout win over Nigeria.

Against Haiti, she pushed away Roseline Eloissaint’s strike before tipping Lorena Durango Bedoya’s effort over the bar in the 2-1 win over Colombia. She blocked an effort from Cortnee Vine late on in the 3-1 win over Australia in the semi-finals and then made four saves against Spain in the 1-0 loss.

“That’s why she’s number one, that’s what she does for the team,” Manchester United team-mate Ella Toone said after the victory over Haiti.

“She makes some unbelievable saves. She kept us in the game so that’s why she’s number one and why she’s our goalkeeper.”

England midfielder Georgia Stanway added: “She’s the best for a reason and moments like that explain why.”

Earps kept her best performance for last, making several important saves as England desperately tried to find a way back into the World Cup final, but to no avail.

She had her moment of glory - diving low to save Hermoso’s spot-kick, roaring in celebration and sticking her tongue out as captain Millie Bright sprinted to pick her up and thank her for giving England a lifeline.

But it was not the catalyst for an England comeback as so often her saves are.

Life before and after Wiegman

Earps’ last World Cup was a very different story. She acted as third-choice goalkeeper in 2019 before being dropped by former manager Phil Neville.

Two years passed in which Earps did not represent England. She contemplated retirement before Sarina Wiegman’s arrival in September 2021 brought her unwavering confidence.

“The reality is my life before Sarina Wiegman and my life after Sarina Wiegman is totally different,” Earps told BBC Sport in January.

In the space of 12 months, Earps had become the undisputed England number one, started every match at Euro 2022 and picked up the Golden Glove as the Lionesses won their first major trophy.

The Fifa Best Goalkeeper award followed and Earps has done all she can to retain the crown again this year after her impressive performances on the biggest stage of them all.

Earps fight for goalkeeping visibility

Such has been Earps’ rise with the Lionesses, she has become a popular figure among supporters and a prominent role model for young boys and girls.

But Earps revealed in July she was “hurt” that fans could not buy a replica of her goalkeeper shirt.

Her comments received widespread support and the Football Association’s Mark Bullingham later said it was an issue that would be “addressed quite soon after the tournament”.

“Mary spoke passionately about it and we want to grow goalkeeping - it’s building role models,” he added.

Earps’ performance in England’s final defeat has only increased calls for her shirts to be put on sale with ex-Lionesses striker Ellen White saying she hopes one day her baby daughter would have one.