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Inspirational “heroine” to be immortalised at the National Football Museum

A life-size statue of Lily Parr, the pioneering winger who played football 100 years ago, will be erected outside the National Football Museum in Manchester during June.

Parr, who scored over 980 goals in her remarkable 32-year career, represented her country in the first women’s international game in 1920, when England beat France 4-0.

The bronze monument, created by sculptor Hannah Stewart, was commissioned by FA sponsor Mars and will be unveiled before next month’s Women’s World Cup in France.

Marzena Bogdanowicz, the head of marketing for women’s football at the FA, said: “We have come a long way since Lily Parr’s days and she deserves recognition as a true pioneer of the sport.

“Women’s football is in a very strong place today with the England team helping us to drive participation and interest at every level.

“Lily Parr was the first woman to enter the Football Hall of Fame, an iconic achievement in itself, so it’s only fitting that she takes her place alongside other football legends and becomes the first woman to be celebrated with a statue in her honour.”

Parr began her career with St Helens Ladies in 1919 and a year later joined Dick, Kerr Ladies, the Preston-based team founded by the Dick, Kerr & Co locomotive factory.

She bagged 108 goals in her first season with the team, striking fear in goalkeepers everywhere with her powerful left foot shot.

Female participation levels in football had surged during World War I and Parr’s career began at a time when the women’s game overshadowed the male version.

Parr played in one game at Goodison Park in front of a crowd of over 50,000 people, yet the Football Association soon deemed the game ‘unsuitable’ for females.

That decision was only reversed in 1969, highlighting the difficulties women have had in being treated as equals in the world’s greatest game.

Gemma Buggins, Mars brand director, says the statue will be the perfect tribute to a woman who left an indelible mark on the game.

“Lily Parr was the heroine of her time in the sporting world,” she said. “It’s an honour to be able to recognise her and commemorate the inspirational woman that she was.

“With England’s Lionesses preparing for this summer’s tournament, we hope the unveiling of the first ever female footballer statue spurs them on and gives them the motivation to go all the way.”

It is believed there are currently just two statues in the United Kingdom commemorating individual sportswomen – Olympic pentathlon champion Dame Mary Peters in Belfast and double Wimbledon tennis champion Dorothy Round in her home town of Dudley .

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