Northern Ireland Senior Women’s International Freya Holdaway has left Crystal Palace the club confirmed on Wednesday morning.
Holdaway has impressed Northen Ireland boss Kenny Shiels and she played the full 90 minutes during his first game in charge against Norway and was in the squad for the 2-2 draw away to Wales several days later.
The defender was also part of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying squad and played 203 minute’s of that campaign.
The 28 year old defender made her breakthrough with the Arsenal academy before making the switch to south London.
During her time at Selhurst Park Holdaway has won two league promotions, one Surrey Cup plus a Players’ Player and Club Player of the Year awards.
For the past 5 seasons Holdaway has captained the Eagles and on the news of her departure 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 in 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 went on to add “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”.
Holdaway then went on to say how Crystal Palace helped her to win a place in the Northern Ireland set-up as she explained “I owe Palace so much. Without the support from teammates 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”.