Rachel Furness

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Rachel Furness
Personal information
Full name Rachel Furness
Date of birth (1988-06-19) 19 June 1988 (age 33)
Place of birth Sunderland, England
Position(s) Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Number 27
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2002–2004 Chester-le-Street
2004–2006 Sunderland 12 (2)
2006–2010 Newcastle United 29 (11)
2010 Grindavik 12 (3)
2010–2016 Sunderland
2011Lincoln (loan) 1 (0)
2017–19 Reading 43 (5)
2019Tottenham Hotspur (loan) 9 (1)
2019– Liverpool 28 (11)
National team
2005– Northern Ireland 81 (38)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 12 February 2020
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 22 August 2019

Rachel Furness (born 19 June 1988) is an English-born Northern Irish footballer who plays for FA Women's Championship club Liverpool and the Northern Ireland national team. A powerful central midfielder, she featured as a winger or striker earlier in her career. Furness' ex-manager at Sunderland, Mick Mulhern, described her as "a strong and determined player."[1]

Club career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Furness attended Usworth Comprehensive School and represented Durham at County level.[2] By season 2002–03 she was already playing for Chester-le-Street Ladies, alongside several other youngsters[3] and former England striker Aran Embleton.[4]

Senior career[edit]

In 2004 Furness moved to Gateshead College to study sports development and fitness.[5] She began playing for the women's football academy at the college and Sunderland. Jill Scott was a teammate in both sides.[6]

In 2006 Furness moved to Northumbria University to study sports development with coaching,[7] and swapped Sunderland for Newcastle United.[8] However, she had by then suffered a serious knee injury, which required two operations and the removal of most of the cartilage.[9] Doctors advised Furness to stop playing football[9] but she nevertheless resumed playing for Newcastle United.[10]

In December 2009, Furness scored one and made the other for Mel Reay, as Newcastle drew 2–2 at OOH Lincoln Ladies in the FA Women's Cup—only to miss her penalty in the shootout defeat.[11]

Furness spent the 2010 summer season in Iceland with Grindavik,[12] then rejoined Sunderland – making her second debut for the club in a 4–0 Premier League Cup win over Newcastle in October 2010.[1] After helping Sunderland win the Premier League title, Furness joined FA WSL club Lincoln Ladies on loan.[13] She made a quick debut in Lincoln's 1–0 home defeat to Chelsea in May, the last game before the WSL mid–season break.[14] She returned to parent club Sunderland before the WSL re–started in July.[15]

In January 2017, Furness left Sunderland for Reading shortly after the Lady Black Cats reverted to part-time status.[16]

Furness joined Tottenham Hotspur on a season-long loan from Reading on 6 September 2019.[17] On 28 December 2019, Furness joined Liverpool, after being recalled by Reading.[18]

International career[edit]

Chester-le-Street director of coaching Bill Godward alerted the Football Association to Furness' potential at an early stage. However, she was overlooked by England because she was not attached to a club with a centre of excellence or academy.[19] Furness then accepted a call-up from Northern Ireland, and represented them in an U17 tournament in Spring 2004.[19] Although born and raised in Tyne and Wear, Furness was eligible for Northern Ireland as her mother was born in Belfast.[9]

After representing her adopted homeland at U17 and U19 level,[7] Furness progressed to the senior international team. In November 2005 she scored against Slovakia, in Northern Ireland's first competitive home match for 20 years.[20] Following a two-year absence from the national team caused by injury, Furness returned in time for the 2011 World Cup Qualifying campaign.[9]

She contributed four goals, including a hat-trick against Croatia, as Northern Ireland ultimately finished third in their group behind France and Finland.[21] In November 2011 Furness scored in Northern Ireland's shock 3–1 Euro 2013 qualifying win over former World and Olympic champions Norway.[22]

Furness also represented Irish Universities at the World University Games, playing in the 2009 tournament in Belgrade.[7] Two years later she was named in the Great Britain Universities squad for the event in Shenzhen.[15]

The 2021 UEFA Women's European Championships Qualification saw record-breaking success for the Northern Ireland Women's National Team, and Furness played a key part in the squad. Several goals by Furness throughout normal qualification helped NI reach their first ever play-offs for a major tournament, a record in itself. This included the winning goal in a game away to Belarus [1], all the more vital given that NI had their keeper sent off within the first 30 minutes of the game.

Then, little expection was placed upon the squad to overcome this final obstacle to reach the tournament, given the higher-ranking opposition. Yet, the whole team kept the dream of qualification, and inspired girls all over the country in their battle. In the first leg, away to Ukraine, Furness scored a vital goal to help NI to a truly surprise 2-1 victory. In the second leg, at home, Furness again made the starting team, but was forced off after an injury. Still, she cheered on passionately from the side-lines, watching as the girls managed to pull off another win, and in doing so, securing their place in the 2022 tournament.

The whole campaign sums up the ideology brought to the national team by manager Kenny Shiels: it is one of hope, dreams and belief in self and others [2]. A documentary was recently released entitled "A New Dream" (can be found on Youtube), which captures some of the essence of this new phase in Northern Ireland women's international football.

In November 2021, in back-to-back FIFA Women's World Cup qualifiers against North Macedonia, Furness scored historic goals to equal, then break, the Northern Ireland goalscoring record. In the first game, away, Furness notched a hatrick to equal the record; then in the home fixture, scored twice more to take the record outright. Overtaking the record of 36 goals for Northern Ireland, formerly held by David Healy, Furness firmly cemented her place in national footballing history. With several 2023 World Cup qualifiers remaining, as well as the 2022 European Championships (2021 delayed) to come in 2022, she will surely hope to add to her tally.

In December 2021, Furness was awarded the NI BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2021 for her contribution to the national team's historic year [3][4].

International goals[edit]

Scores and results list Northern Ireland's goal tally first.
# Date Venue Opponent Result Competition Scored
1 29 October 2005 Football Centre Mogoşoaia, Mogoşoaia  Romania 2–3 2007 FIFA World Cup Qual. 1
2 10 November 2005 Ballymena Showgrounds, Ballymena  Slovakia 2–1 2007 FIFA World Cup Qual. 1
3 12 May 2009 Forthbank Stadium, Stirling  Scotland 1–3 Friendly 1
4 24 October 2009 Stadion ŠRC Zaprešić, Zaprešić  Croatia 1–0 2011 FIFA World Cup Qual. 1
7 25 August 2010 The Oval, Belfast  Croatia 3–1 2011 FIFA World Cup Qual. 3
8 7 March 2011 Koinotiko Sotiras, Famagusta  Mexico 1–3 Cyprus Cup 1
9 9 March 2011 Alpha Sports Centre, Larnaca   Switzerland 1–2 Cyprus Cup 1
10 19 November 2011 Mourneview Park, Lurgan  Norway 3–1 Euro 2013 Qual. 1
11 5 February 2012 Solitude, Belfast  Scotland 1–6 Friendly 1
13 17 September 2014 Mourneview Park, Lurgan  Faroe Islands 3–0 2015 FIFA World Cup Qual. 2
31 9 April 2021 Stadion, Ukraine  Ukraine 2-1 2021 UEFA Women's European Championships Qual. 1
32 17 September 2021 Inver Park, Larne  Luxembourg 4-0 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup Qual. 1
33 21 September 2021 Windsor Park, Belfast  Latvia 4-0 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup Qual. 1


36 || 25 November 2021 || Petar Miloševski Training Centre, Macedonia ||  North Macedonia || 11-0 || 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup Qual.



29 November 2021

Seaview, Belfast ||  North Macedonia || 9-0 || 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup Qual.



  1. ^ a b "Sunderland Sign Rachel Furness". Sunderland WFC. 4 October 2010. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  2. ^ "Under 16 Girls 2003–04". Durham County Schools FA. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  3. ^ "Women's Football". The Northern Echo. 7 March 2003. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  4. ^ "Embleton joins Cestrians". The Northern Echo. 31 January 2003. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  5. ^ "Best thing I ever did: Rachel Furness, 16, Washington, Tyne and Wear". Children and Young People Now. 6 April 2005. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  6. ^ Hannah Davies (12 April 2005). "Now it's a game for the other half". Sunday Sun. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  7. ^ a b c "World University Games". FAI Third Level Football. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  8. ^ "Reay of hope". The Football Association. 13 June 2006. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  9. ^ a b c d "World University Games". Northern Ireland ladies: Why football is a girl thing. 31 March 2010. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  10. ^ Tony Leighton (24 February 2008). "World University Games". Arsenal and Everton ease to semis. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  11. ^ "Penalties? OOH dear! FIVE PAGES OF GRASSROOTS SPORT START HERE WITH GIRLS FOOTBALL: United's hopes of Cup glory ended by spot of bother". Newcastle Evening Chronicle. 19 December 2009. Retrieved 16 July 2011.
  12. ^ "Rachel Furness". KSI.is. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  13. ^ "Furness joins Lincoln on loan". Sunderland WFC. 13 May 2011. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  14. ^ "Lincoln 0 Chelsea 1". Chelsea Ladies. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 23 July 2011.
  15. ^ a b "Lincoln Ladies add pace to attack". Lincolnshire Echo. 21 July 2011. Retrieved 23 July 2011.
  16. ^ "Rachel Furness: Reading sign Northern Ireland midfielder from Sunderland". BBC Sport. 13 January 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  17. ^ "Rachel Furness joins Tottenham Hotspur Women on loan from WSL rivals Reading". BBC Sport. 6 September 2019. Retrieved 28 December 2019.
  18. ^ "Rachel Furness: Liverpool Women sign Northern Ireland midfielder". BBC Sport. 28 December 2019. Retrieved 28 December 2019.
  19. ^ a b "Rejected Rachel ready for Northern Ireland bow". The Northern Echo. 6 February 2004. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  20. ^ "Green light for Northern Ireland". The Technician. January 2007. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  21. ^ "Rachel Furness". UEFA. Retrieved 7 October 2010.
  22. ^ "N Ireland 3–1 Norway". BBC Sport. 20 November 2011. Retrieved 26 November 2011.

External links[edit]