BY JOSHUA BUNTING
Northern Ireland senior women’s international Freya Holdaway has left Crystal Palace.
The 28-year-old defender made her breakthrough with the Arsenal academy before making the switch to South London.
She won two league promotions, one Surrey Cup plus a Players’ Player and Club Player of the Year awards during her time with the Eagles.
Holdaway has captained the Eagles for the last five seasons.
Manager Dean Davenport said: “Seeing Freya leave, and having that conversation with her, was arguably my toughest during my time here as manager.”
“When she joined the club, Freya hadn’t played for three years. Within a year she was my captain and four years later rightfully earned international recognition with Northern Ireland.
“That rise, after the three-year break, epitomises the traits I saw in Freya when she first arrived: a fighter, a leader and an intelligent footballer.
“Freya will be missed throughout the club and from my point of view, I have been proud to be her manager for so much of her footballing career.”
Holdaway said: “The best thing, for now, is for Palace and me to part ways. However, Dean Davenport and I have discussed the potential of me taking the pathway of player to coach. The fact the club still want me to be involved in such a way means a great deal to me.
“Furthermore, to be the first former Palace Women’s player to take that route would be an incredibly proud moment for me – it also highlights another big step for the women’s game, as former players becoming coaches and working their way up the ladder regularly occurs within the men’s game”.
“Palace will always have a place in my heart. I’ve spent six years here and the club ethos has always been: Palace and proud.
“I owe Palace so much. Without the support from team-mates and the management team, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to represent Northern Ireland at the age of 28 – I had assumed any chance of international recognition had passed me.
“I played for Northern Ireland in front of 30,000 people against the Netherlands and that experience was incredible – that’s what dreams are made of. Palace were instrumental in making that dream come true”.
“It has been a pleasure and whether it’s as a coach, as an opponent or a fan in the stands, I’ll always be Palace and proud”.
PICTURE BY KEITH GILLARD
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