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Rachel Yankey and Emma Byrne leave Arsenal Ladies

Arsenal Ladies have released former England winger Rachel Yankey and long-serving Irish goalkeeper Emma Byrne.

Yankey, 37, began her career with the Gunners as a 16-year-old and after leaving in 2000 she returned five years later, and then stayed with the north London club. Over her two spells at Arsenal she won eight league titles, nine FA Cups and a UEFA Women's Cup, also achieving 129 England caps in her career.

Arsenal announced her departure, calling Yankey's time at the club "a glittering career" and hailing her "outstanding contribution".

Republic of Ireland international Byrne, also 37, departs after a 17-year stint in which she helped the club earn 11 league titles, 10 FA Cups and the UEFA Women's Cup.

She lost her place to Dutch goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal last season, and the club said: "Everyone at Arsenal would like to thank Emma for her commitment and contribution to the club, and to wish her the very best for her future."

England and Arsenal midfielder Fara Williams said on Twitter: "Lucky enough to be able to call you both team mates for a year.. true legends of the club n will be hugely missed.."

Yankey, who hosts children's sports show 'Footy Pups' on the BBC's CBeebies channel, has yet to decide if she will continue as a player.

The Women's Super League is switching from being a league that runs from spring to autumn to adopt a more traditional calendar from 2017, and she has ruled out playing in the gap-filling Spring Series.

Yankey wrote in a statement on Twitter: "I have been offered opportunities to continue playing at different clubs, so maybe I'll be back on the pitch at some point. I feel however that mentally now is the right time for me to take a break over the spring series, reflect and identify the next chapter in my footballing life."


From Belfast Telegraph