Southampton FC Women are delighted to announce the signing of defender Laura Rafferty, who returns to her childhood club for the 2021/22 season.
Rafferty, 25, started her football career with Saints at academy level and has since gone on to play for Chelsea, Oxford United and Brighton & Hove Albion, gaining extensive experience in the Women’s Super League across a number of years.
Most recently, Rafferty spent time on loan at Bristol City in the top level of the Women’s game, where she made 17 appearances in the most recent campaign.
She now joins the Saints squad ahead of its first season in the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division, following the team’s successful application to move up a tier this summer.
The Northern Ireland international, who has been capped more than 20 times for her country, said: “I’m so excited to get going. I’m back at my own club, and the strides the club have 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 really push that forward too.
“I had my whole childhood here, I was at the Southampton academy. 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.
“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.”
Speaking about Rafferty’s arrival at the club, head coach Marieanne Space-Cale highlighted the importance of her return.
“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, and 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,” she said.
“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.”