For Rebecca McKenna, 2021 just keeps getting better.
As if playing a starring role as Northern Ireland made history by qualifying for the Women’s Euro 2022 finals wasn’t enough, the 20-year-old Bangor girl’s footballing life is on the kind of upward spiral that she could only have dreamed of a few months ago.
Her immediate future is mapped out. McKenna bade an emotional farewell to Linfield Ladies after a goalscoring performance in Monday night’s highly-entertaining 5-2 defeat to Cliftonville Ladies and will head to Sussex this weekend to begin pre-season training with English Championship club Lewes.
As for what happens after that, she is dreaming big.
“Women’s football has come on so much over the last few years and I think this is the right time for me,” McKenna, who follows Megan Bell, Lauren Perry and Chloe McCarron in moving from Linfield to cross-channel football, told the Belfast Telegraph.
“I don’t want to leave it too late. An opportunity has come up and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t have taken it.
“I am hoping to go over to Lewes, get a year’s experience under my belt and then see where that takes me.
“The club is looking to go forward and that is something that I want to be part of and I am really excited to be joining.
“I have a big 12 months coming up with making this move and then the Euros next summer.
“Like everyone I want to play at the highest level possible. I would love to play in the WSL and this is a good move towards achieving that dream.”
McKenna’s stock has been high since that Euro play-off win against Ukraine when she impressed in both legs of the 4-1 aggregate win and those performances helped her catch the eye of Lewes, who finished fifth in the Championship last season.
“When Kenny (Shiels) told me I was starting against Ukraine I was delighted and I knew it was my time to show how good I really am and show that I want to be playing for my country and I think I took my opportunity with both hands,” she said.
In tonight’s Danske Bank Women’s Premiership action, Glentoran Women will look to return to the top of the table when they travel to Sion Swifts Ladies, while Crusaders Strikers are at home to Derry City Women.
WOMEN’S PREMIERSHIP FIXTURES: Sion Swifts Ladies v Glentoran Women (7.45pm), Crusaders Strikers v Derry City Women (8pm).