New Albion goalkeeper Nicky Evrard is a shot-stopping specialist and leads by example on the pitch.
That is according to Valerie Van Avermaet, who has followed the goalkeeper’s progress over the past three seasons for Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad.
The 28-year-old put in multiple eye-catching performances for Belgium as they made it to the quarter-finals of the 2022 Women’s Euros, where she saved spot-kicks against both Iceland and France.
Now, after joining the Albion on a season-long loan from Chelsea, months after signing from Belgian outfit OH Leuven on a three-year deal, Van Avermaet is intrigued to see how the experienced stopper fares in the Women’s Super League.
“Her biggest strength is saving penalties and her reflexes. She saved multiple penalties for Belgium over the past year or so and her form at that tournament was very impressive,” she said.
“She is very important for the Belgium national team and for the last couple of years she has very much been the country’s number one.
“The key question is whether she can make the step up from Belgian football, where only a handful of players are full-time professionals, to the WSL.
“She did well at both Gent and Leuven, although there were some ups and downs too, but this move to Brighton will be a good test of her credentials.”
Evrard, who has 63 caps for Belgium and in January became the first keeper to win the Belgian Golden Boot for the best female player, has spent most of her career as a semi-professional.
Despite that, the former Gent star, who has run her own business renting out bouncy castles with her brother alongside her footballing career, shone at the biggest stage in last year’s Euros.
She saved 23 out of the 27 shots she faced, and in their last eight loss to Sweden, she was named UEFA’s player of the match after keeping out eight of nine efforts on goal.
“She has good communication skills, is a leader, and has self confidence. You see that on the pitch," Van Avermaet continued.
“This is a great move for her. If she can reach the level she hit in the Euros she will be very good for Brighton."
Evrard, who has also played for AA Gent, will compete for the number one jersey with fellow deadline day recruit Sophie Baggaley, who signed from Manchester United, and Katie Startup.
Albion kick off their WSL campaign at Everton on Sunday.