Heather O’Reilly comes out of retirement to join Shelbourne FC

Heather O’Reilly is back. 

The former United States women’s national team player is coming out of retirement to join Irish club Shelbourne FC. 

O’Reilly saw a successful career before hanging up her boots initially, winning a World Cup, three different Olympic gold medals and lifting two NWSL Championships trophies. But now, she returns for more. 

“I had a long, successful, trophy-ridden career and I am very proud of that, but there was this one hole on my resume that I never played Champions League football,” O’Reilly said. 

“It was a disappointing end to my time over with Arsenal when I wrapped up with them in 2018, it irked me, it bothered me. It was always a thing in the back of my head.”

Oddly enough, the player credits former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger for her return to the pitch, citing the Unicef Soccer Aid charity match as the source of inspiration. 

“I reached out to them. I don’t know if it was known that I was interested in coming out of retirement,” said O’Reilly. “It has been nearly three years since I officially retired from club football. People needed to know that I was interested.”

Shelbourne won the Women’s National League in 2021 by just one point, earning a spot in the first round of Champions League qualifying. But they don’t have an easy trajectory, facing ZNK Pomurje first, and either Icelandic side Valur or Armenia’s FC Hayasa if they advance. 

“I’m chasing my dream,” added O’Reilly. “I had this unchecked box and I’m looking to go do it, and for good reasons. I’m thrilled about it, the club is thrilled about it, and I think it’s one of those situations where it’s just a win-win all around.”

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