Al-Ittihab club in Saudi Arabia finalized signing Leicester City’s former player Ashleigh Plumptre this Tuesday.
The English-born Nigerian defender becomes one of the most important female footballers to join the Saudi Women’s Professional League.
Following three successful seasons with Women’s Super League side Leicester City, the 25-year-old left-back announced leaving the club before the FIFA Women’s World Cup in which she took part.
During the 2022/2023 Women’s Super League season, Plumptre only missed two of Leicester’s last games contributing to a tenth-place finish.
The new “Ittihadi Tiger” impressed with the Falcons at the global event, featuring in the team’s four matches and contributing to their Round of 16 Journey.
Their adventure ended after a shootout session loss against Plumptre’s country of birth, England.
Via its social media accounts, Al-Ittihad announced signing the former LA Galaxy player on a free transfer. The club who finished fifth in the eight-team league’s first season, with five wins and six draws from 14 games, will be looking to win the second season.
Excited For The New Adventure
Plumptre, the former age-group international with England, said that she is “excited to start this journey alongside some incredible human beings,” before adding “my journey of stepping into more of myself continues … It’s more than football.”
Kelly Lindsey, the former USWNT player, surely had an impact on Plumptre’s decision.
The former Head of Performance at Lewes FC is Al-Ittihad’s new head coach. She joined the team this summer along with Myles Smith as her assistant and Dan Smith as the goalkeeping coach.
Myles had a spell at Manchester United Women as a scout but is most known for his attachment to West Ham Women, while Dan was in the newly-promoted Bristol City’s coaching staff.
Lindsey, the former Head Coach of the Moroccan National Team, can count on Plumptre but also on Salma Amani the Moroccan international who joined from the French side Metz, and Nor Mustafa, who previously had a spell with Westham United.
Is The Saudi Women’s Professional League Also Attracting Big Names?
The Men’s Saudi Professional League has forced itself as a league to watch for the upcoming seasons. Saudi Arabi’s Public Investment Fund took over four clubs earlier this year.
Al Ittihad, Al Ahli, Al Nassr, and Al Hilal have been transformed into companies, each of which is owned by PIF and non-profit foundations.
Star names joined the league, from Karim Benzema and N’Golo Kante in Al-Ittihad to Neymar with Al Hilal, and Sadio Mane with Al Nassr.
These transfers with some eye-catching sums have led to accusations the country is seeking to ‘sportswash’ its reputation.
After closing the men’s transfer market, the Saudi clubs continued their work, but this time, investing in women’s football.
Several names have been arriving and joining the teams in preparation for the league kick-off on October 13.
Plumptre joins Venezuela’s Oriana Altuve, Nigeria’s Rita Chikwelu, and Sweden’s Nor Mustafa for the second edition of the league.
Aminata Diallo has also landed in the Kingdom and will represent Al-Nassr. She joins her friend Lina Boussaha.
Maybe, just maybe, Saudi Arabia will have Lina Boussaha to thank in a few years, as she became the pioneer when signing for Al-Nassr… on the same day as a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.