Who is arguably the most successful English female footballer? Any ideas? Well I am proud to say the lady I speak of is of Ghanaian descent from her father’s side. Rachel Aba Yankey MBE is the most-capped player currently in the England team. She was the second English female player, after Gillian Coultard, to win 100 caps.
Rachel began playing football as the only girl in a boy’s team, before joining Mill Hill United at youth level. She represented Brent in the London Youth Games as a youngster, and was inducted in to their Hall of Fame in 2011. She was registered as the first professional female footballer in England at 16 and started at Fulham FC then later played for Arsenal and Birmingham City.
In August 1997 Rachel made her senior England debut in a 4–0 win over Scotland. In 2009, Yankey was one of the first 17 female players to be given central contracts by the Football Association. However, in August 2009 she was surprisingly left out of coach Hope Powell’s 22–player squad for Euro 2009with Powell believing that her form did not justify a call–up. But after a return to form with Arsenal Ladies, she was recalled by Powell for the 2010 Cyprus Cup and won her 90th and 91st caps. On 29 July 2010 Yankey became the second Englishwoman after Gillian Coultard to earn 100 caps during a home World Cup qualifier against Turkey.
Outside of football one of her proudest honours came in 2006, when was awarded an MBE for services to football in the Queen’s New Year honours list.
Although Rachel Yankey decided to play for the country of her mother’s birth – England – she is of Ghanaian heritage and has openly stated she is proud of her heritage.
Rachel Aba Yankey MBE, Me Firi Ghana salutes you!
Ben JK Anim-Antwi (Kwesi)