Steph Houghton said receiving an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List rounds off a remarkable 2015 for both her and women’s football in general.
The England Women’s captain led her country to a bronze medal at last summer’s World Cup in Canada.
Houghton said: “It caps off an unbelievable 2015 for me, the rest of the England team and for women’s football.
“It was a massive year for our sport and to be awarded an MBE at the end of it… well, it doesn’t seem real.
“It’s something I will cherish, but I hope women’s football continues to get bigger and better off the back of an amazing 2015.
“It’s a nice way to start the New Year.”
Houghton has earned 66 England caps and was named captain in April 2014. She made her debut against Russia in March 2007.
The 27-year-old first came to prominence in 2012 when she scored three goals for Team GB at the London Olympics, including the winner against Brazil in front of over 70,000 fans at Wembley Stadium.
Houghton’s England colleague Fara Williams also received an MBE, and although it is an individual honour, the defender thanked her team-mates for the success they achieved last year.
She said: “I’m so privileged to be recognised as an individual, but it’s a massive honour for me and my family.
“And I owe a lot to them and my Manchester City and England team-mates.
“Even though I get recognised personally, it’s all about being part of a team and I’m privileged to captain both of those sides.
“It’s an unbelievable honour.”
Houghton and Williams now join a stellar cast of other England Women’s stars who have also received an MBE – Rachel Yankey, Kelly Smith and Casey Stoney.
Houghton added: “A few other female players have been recognised previously and they are classed as legends in our game.
“It’s a pretty special club with some very special people who led the way for women’s football. To be recognised alongside those is a massive honour.
“It just shows how far the women’s game has come that certain people are getting recognised for their success and what they try and do for the game both on and off the pitch.”
She continued: “Women’s football has made so much progress since the Olympics and we have continued to make progress since the World Cup.
“Now we need to make sure we grab that opportunity and make things even better. And I know we’ve got the right people involved in the game to make that happen.”