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14 Aug 2022

Ex-Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger influences World Cup winner to return to football with Irish WNL side

Ex-Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger influences World Cup winner to return to football with Irish WNL side

Heather O'Reilly has stunned the Women's National League by signing for Shelbourne who will play in this season's UEFA Champions League.

Ex-Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger advised former USA international Heather O'Reilly to return to football following her retirement from the game, and O'Reilly has listened to the Frenchman's guidance by signing for Irish side Shelbourne.

O'Reilly, now 37, has stunned the Women's National League by joining the Dublin outfit who will play in this season's UEFA Champions League.

The 2015 World Cup champion, who has been capped 231 times for her country and won three Olympic games titles, said: "I felt I had more to give, and the project at Shelbourne FC caught my eye from across the Atlantic. Ireland is where my family came from before moving to the US, so there’s a special connection.

"I’m delighted to sign for this great club and help Shels on the journey to become one of the best teams the island of Ireland has ever seen. I’m relishing the chance to put on the boots again and hoping my experience and skills play a part in the pursuit of silverware."

The ex-Arsenal player said she took on advice from former Gunners manager Wenger who influenced her in making a decision to return to football and play in the Champions League - a competition that she has yet to feature in.

“I played in Soccer Aid a few months ago. Arsene Wenger was my manager. We got talking after one of the sessions, and he said, ‘Heather, you are very good, you should still play’.

"I said, ‘Oh thanks Arsene, maybe. I never did play Champions League football, and it always bothered me’. He says, ‘You should do it. You should play’. I puffed out my chest, put some more thought into it, and said I was going to start having some conversations. Arsene Wenger was the catalyst to get me out of retirement, get the boots back on and give it a go with Shelbourne FC.”

Shelbourne open their UEFA Champions League campaign against ZNK Pomurje (Slovenia) on August 18.

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