English in Action Women's football

The women of English players abroad

Did you know that three English women played in the equivalent of La Liga last weekend? Or that several have already appeared in the Women’s Champions League this season playing for teams abroad? It’s fair to say these impressive feats are not awarded the coverage they deserve so here is my look at where female English players abroad are playing across the world.

Australia – Natasha Dowie

The niece of former striker and manager Iain, Natasha Dowie was born in Abu Dhabi and made her debut for England senior team in 2009. She has spent the last two years playing in America, Australia and Sweden, leaving terrified defences in her wake. Her most recent spell came at Swedish top flight side Linköpings where she scored nine goals in her last six games for the club.

Before that came two loan spells at Australian side Melbourne Victory where she was captain and picked up numerous awards for his performances. At American side Boston Breakers, she scored ten goals in 30 games before the club folded.

Her goalscoring exploits abroad have hardly been a surprise though, seeing as she was the WSL top scorer and also the Players’ Player of the year in 2013.

The 30-year-old forward now looks set to return to Melbourne Victory.

Spain – Toni Duggan, Siobhan WIlson & Chelsea Ashurst

Chelsea Ashurst

Toni Duggan is likely the most high-profile name in this article and that’s not surprising as she is currently leading the line for Barcelona and England but goalkeeper Chelsea Ashurst has also played for Barcelona in the past. She alongside Siobhan Wilson both made their top flight debuts for Malaga last weekend.

Siobhan Wilson

Unfortunately the side lost 4-0 but Ashurst has been playing abroad in Spain for ten years now and will no doubt bounce back. Wilson’s debut came after a spell studying and playing in the States with Clayton State and then Georgia State.

Toni Duggan

Duggan scored 14 times last season for Barcelona, including three in the Champions League, and she helped her side win their first game of the season last weekend.

Germany – Mary Earps & Hannah Griffin

Mary Earps

Mary Earps made her debut for England last year after impressing in goal for Reading and that led to her securing a transfer to German top flight side Wolfsburg recently. Her debut last weekend could not have been anymore comfortable as she kept a clean sheet in a 11-0 thrashing of Hannover 96 in the cup. That came four days after keeping net for England in an emphatic 6-0 win over Kazakhstan.

Hannah Griffin

In the second tier, Hannah Griffin is just 17 but is already earning first team minutes. The England U17 forward scored her first senior goal last season for Saarbrücken and she is with the same team this year as she looks to pick up more first team experience.

France – Lucy Bronze & Izzy Christiansen

Lucy Bronze

The top flight of French football is one of the strongest in the world and it’s not surprise that two of England’s most highly rated players play for last season’s champions Lyon. Defender Lucy Bronze won the league and Champions League double with the French side last year and she is joined by her international teammate Izzy Christiansen on the continent this season.

Izzy Christiansen

The pair are both former Everton and Manchester City players and Bronze’s performances last season saw her named the BBC’s Women’s Footballer of the Year. Christiansen scored nine times last season for City and already has her first goal for Lyon.

Iceland – Steffi Hardy, Rio Hardy, Sophie O’Rourke & Grace Rapp

Steffi & Rio Hardy

Twins Steffi and Rio Hardy and Sophie O’Rourke all play for Icelandic top flight side Grindavík. The Hardys started their careers at Blackburn before accepting soccer scholarships at University of South Alabama. The pair, both now 22, joined Grindavik at the start of this season with Steffi putting in commanding performances at the back and Rio firing an impressive eight goals in 13 games so far.

Sophie O’Rourke (left)

Midfielder O’Rourke joined later in the season having previously featured for WSL side Reading. The 19-year-old has quickly established herself in the team.

Grace Rapp

Rapp plays for fellow top flight side Selfoss and has made five appearances for the side so far since joining in July. The England U19 international previously played for Yeovil Town before studying at the University of Miami.

Norway – Jessica King & Jenna Dear

Jessica King

Liverpool-born attacking midfielder Jessica King started her career at her hometown club before moving to rivals Everton. Two years ago she joined Swiss side Basel before spending a season in the German top flight with USV Jena. The 26-year-old now plays in Norway for Kolbotn where she’s scored once so far in five sub appearances. She also spent time as a coach during her time studying at Trinity Western University in Canada.

Jenna Dear (left)

Jenna Dear is a former England youth international and joined top flight side Vålerenga from Sheffield FC last month following her former side’s resignation from the WSL. The midfielder has played four times so far for her new side who sit seventh in the 12 team league. 

America – Jodie Taylor & Rachel Daly

Rachel Daly

Rachel Daly’s third season in America with top flight (known as the NWSL) side Houston Dash has been her best to date as she scored ten goals in 24 games to finish as the fourth highest scorer in regular season action. Despite that, her side missed out on the end of season playoffs.

Jodie Taylor

Someone still in with a chance of winning the NWSL is Jodie Taylor. The 32-year-old forward who has also played in Australia and Sweden, plays for Seattle Reign who finished third in the league and are in the playoff semi-finals against Portland Thorns this weekend. She has nine goals so far this season and is an England international like Daly.

Cyprus – Caitlin Hayes

Caitlin Hayes also plays for a team called Barcelona, albeit a namesake team in Cyprus. She started her career by playing for both Manchester clubs before making her senior debut with Everton. She then spent time studying and playing in the States at Mississippi College before returning to senior football in Cyprus. Earlier this season, she played in the Champions League, scoring twice in a 6-0 win over Olimpija Ljubljana.

Switzerland – Yasmin Bunter

Yasmin Bunter started her career playing for Fulham but has been playing abroad for the past eight years. She also took the route of a soccer scholarship attending the Francis Marion University in South Carolina. After four years, she then joined Swiss club Neunkirch before making the step up to Swiss giants Basel three years later. The 28-year-old defender has played three times so far in this years’ Champions League scoring against Israeli side Maccabi Kiryat Gat.

Italy – Eniola Aluko & Lianne Sanderson

Eni Aluko

Juventus went big with their recruitment this summer, signing two England internationals. Eni Aluko and Lianne Sanderson have over 150 England caps between them and made their debuts for the Italian giants in the Champions League last night. Aluko’s move to Juventus comes after six years with Chelsea and sees her return to playing abroad for the first time since a spell playing in the US between 2009 and 2011. Sanderson, another forward, has previously played in Spain, America and Cyprus. 

Lianne Sanderson


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