Ex-Liverpool captain Gemma Bonner back at Reds

Former Liverpool captain and Women’s Super League champion Gemma Bonner will return to the Reds for a second spell from January 1.

The 31-year-old defender led Liverpool to back-to-back WSL titles in 2013 and 2014 before leaving for Manchester City in 2018.

The festive timing of the club’s announcement is fitting: Leeds-born Bonner, who joins Racing Louisville of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), once wrote to Santa asking for a Liverpool kit for Christmas.

Bonner said: “It’s a pretty special moment for me. I still pinch myself when I get to Anfield.

Bonner steered Liverpool to two WSL titles (Nigel French/PA)

“I’m super excited to be back and can’t wait to get the shirt back on and hang out with the girls and come back and play for Liverpool.

“I was here for a while before and it was a tough decision to leave, but I think I always knew in me that one day I would like to come back to Liverpool. Now the time seems right.

“One of the things I’ve been most proud of is lifting those trophies, especially one after the other.

“I have incredible memories of my time here before. Growing up as a Liverpool fan probably means a bit more. Seeing my shirt again today with the name on the back was almost a bit emotional.

The Reds were promoted to the WSL earlier this year after a dominant performance in the Championship, shocking champions Chelsea with victory in their first home game of the 2022/23 WSL campaign.

USA striker Katie Stengel enjoyed a prolific start to the season for the ninth-placed side with six goals, leaving her level with Chelsea’s Fran Kirby in third place in the competition.

“The team started very well,” Bonner said. “They have a good foundation and are definitely building. I hope I can come in and contribute to the continued progression.

Bonner’s 115 appearances during his previous six-year stint with Liverpool still remain the club’s second highest in the professional era, behind only Ashley Hodson.

The signing will also reunite the centre-back with manager Matt Beard, who managed Liverpool from 2012 to 2015 and spent spells at Boston Breakers, West Ham and Bristol before returning in 2021.

“It was too good an opportunity to pass up Gemma at the football club,” said Beard, who also managed Bonner at Chelsea before the two joined Liverpool.

“We had a great working relationship before and she will bring leadership and experience to the team.

“She won everything in England with Liverpool and Man City and has now come to America to broaden her horizons and open her eyes to different footballing cultures.

“It just feels like she’s coming home.”

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