Northern Ireland international Laura Rafferty has returned to her old roots, signing for National League Southern Premier Division side Southampton.
Southampton have progressed to a higher division following the club’s successful application. They’ve started planning for the new season by pulling off a coup in the transfer market.
Rafferty started her career at the Saints before moving to Chelsea. She has also enjoyed stints at Oxford United and Brighton and Hove Albion.
Last season, the defender spent the season on loan at Bristol City. Rafferty featured 13 times in the WSL and claimed one assist in the process in a 3-2 win over Reading.
As well as playing in the league, the 25-year-old also featured in four Continental Cup matches. Bristol City defied all odds to reach the final before losing out to Chelsea in the showpiece event.
On returning to Southampton Rafferty said: “I’m so excited to get going. I’m back at my own club and the strides the club has made since I’ve been away and the ones that they’re looking to continue to make is exciting for everyone. I’m just happy to be a part of it and hopefully to really push that forward too.
“I had my whole childhood here, I was at the Southampton academy but unfortunately, out of my control I had to move on as there was no women’s team at the time, but I always knew I’d come back – it was written in the script.Embed from Getty Images
“I’ve been at the highest of highs in football and the lowest of lows and coming back at this time when I know the club are looking to really move forward, it’s the same ambition that I have and it just fits very nicely and I’m ready to embrace this new challenge.”
Rafferty also helped her nation qualify for their first ever major tournament earlier this year. Northern Ireland made it into the Euro 2022 tournament with a win over Ukraine.
Southampton head coach added on the new addition: “I think it’s a major step forward for the club, it shows the ambition we’ve got to move forward in the women’s game and being a major player in years to come. Laura playing a part in that is huge for us at this time, but it’s also going to be a massive step for us moving forward.
“As a coach you want to work with the best players, you want to be in a position to call in experience and Laura brings that in abundance.”