Mary Earps

Goalkeeper for Manchester United and England national team

Mary Earps smiling and holding her degree wearing the graduation cap and gown

Mary Earps was awarded an Honorary Degree in Winter 2023. Here you can read her degree oration.

Chancellor, it is my pleasure today to welcome back to the University one of our country’s footballing greats. As a university, we celebrate many elite sportspeople, and today is no exception. The contributions that our honorary graduate has made to football and to women’s sport are outstanding.   
Loughborough graduate Mary Earps has made history as a member of the team that won the 2022 European Championships for England. 
Mary graduated from Loughborough in 2016 with a BSc Information Management and Business degree from the Loughborough Business School. 
She played football since she was 10, joining West Bridgford Colts in her hometown. She signed for Leicester City at age 14 and was playing for Nottingham Forest at 16 before moving to Doncaster as their number one. Following stints at Birmingham City and Bristol Academy, she earned her first professional contract at Reading, aged 17.  
Mary is now at Manchester United. She holds the number one spot with The Red Devils and has made more than 80 appearances for the club. 
Following six years of playing competitive football, she made her international debut in 2017 following the call up from Sarina Wiegman. 
Since then, she’s been the Lionesses number one keeper and has made over 45 appearances, competing in the most illustrious of tournaments the game has to offer. Early on, she headed to France for the World Cup in 2019 and just last year we witnessed history being made. 
The Euro 2022 Championship saw the Lionesses – and Mary – paving the way for the next generation. The squad took home that winner's trophy for the first time in the side’s history.  
They played in front of a packed Wembley Stadium – with more than 87,000 in attendance.  
Mary played every minute of every game throughout the Euros and just a year later she did the same again in the Women’s World Cup. This time she was Vice-Captain and conceded just four goals throughout the whole tournament. As we know, sport is not without its highs and lows.  
Whilst the World Cup didn’t end the way the Lionesses had hoped, the side had made their first-ever World Cup final, Mary had another incredible tournament, was named best goalkeeper of the tournament and took home the Golden Glove accolade, the highest honour for a goalkeeper. 
Mary also made history when she placed 5th in the 2023 Ballon d'Or Feminin award - the highest ever ranking for a goalkeeper. 
At the top of her game, Mary has been recognised for her amazing achievements both nationally and internationally. This year she was named as England Women’s Player of the Year. She was awarded The Best FIFA Women’s Goalkeeper 2022 at The Best FIFA Football Awards™, and most recently she was named The Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year for 2023 as well as BBC Women's Footballer of the Year 2023. 
Succeeding on the pitch is of course important – but so is standing up for what you believe in. The World Cup was not without its challenges off the pitch. England shirts came on sale – and Mary’s wasn’t available. There was no goalkeeper kit for people to purchase and wear in support of the Lionesses – who were in the midst of their most successful period in their history. Mary called them out, and following much backing from the public, a limited edition set of the shirts came on sale.  
If you had told a 10 year old me, practising football in the garden, because girls couldn’t play football in school, that in 2023 there would be children crying because they couldn’t buy the shirt of the England women’s goalkeeper, I simply wouldn’t have believed you. I would personally like to say thank you for ensuring our 10-year-olds today, have opportunities, which now includes equal access to football in schools, because you and your teammates have used your platforms for positive change. A further example of this is when collecting an award earlier this year in France, Mary gave an inspirational speech with an emotional message around mental health that sparked much praise.  
We are incredibly excited to see where the next few years will take Mary and we are so proud of the many accomplishments, on and off the field, she already has to her name. 
Chancellor, it is my honour to present to you Mary Earps, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to women’s football, in particular for her part in winning the 2022 European Championships, for the degree of Doctor of the University, Honoris Causa.