United States international Christen Press is delighted to be playing in the “football capital of the world”, having joined Manchester United nearly two decades after she was first “blown away” by the club.
The Red Devils made ripples across the women’s football world earlier this month when announcing the signing of the 31-year-old striker and her fellow two-time World Cup winner Tobin Heath.
Press jumped at the chance to sign up for the 2020-21 season and, just like her USWNT team-mate, underlined her desire to make the most of an unexpected situation by helping ever-improving United win titles.
“I decided to play for Manchester United because they offered an amazing chance for me to get back to football after having been away for six months, which is the longest stretch of time of my life that I haven’t played,” the USA striker said.
“I had not been considering coming to Europe early this year and I think a lot of sights were towards the Olympics this summer.
“In March when football shut down in the United States and for myself kind of all bets were off and no one knew what to expect.
“It wasn’t six months of thinking, you know, ‘what am I going to do?’ – I was sort of just living day to day trying to figure out how I was going to get to a field the next day.
“Then when I found out that Manchester United was interested in signing myself and Tobin. I jumped at the opportunity to play for a great club, a massive club with such history.
“To play for a team that’s going to have an opportunity to fight for titles, and to play for a manager that’s really well respected.”
Press, who has scored 58 goals across 138 games for the USA, cannot wait to line up for Casey Stoney’s side and, having come through quarantine, fulfil a childhood dream of playing for the club.
“I think the history that goes into putting on this crest is something that I’ve never experienced,” said the Los Angeles-born striker, who is wearing the number 24 shirt in honour of the late Kobe Bryant.
“It’s something that no club has in the United States and even the other international teams I play for don’t have… this type of rich history of football.
“So it’s a huge honour, and in a lot of ways it feels surreal.
“I came to Manchester when I was 13 years old. When I was playing for a local team, we came over and played Manchester United’s development girls’ team.
“It was the first time I experienced the EPL and English football and I was blown away.
“So to be back here some decades later, and to be playing, it’s an amazing opportunity. I hope that I can absorb as much as possible of the football culture and the football magic that’s here.”
With fellow US international Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis at Manchester City, Press added: “It seems like, you know, it’s the football capital of the world.
“There’s so much history here so I’m looking forward to as always just learning new things, trying new things and, when it’s safe, being able to appreciate going to games, playing games and enjoying that side of it as well.”
United have refocused on developing the women’s game since launching the team in 2018, having disbanded the previous side shortly after Press came over as a teenager.
The 31-year-old believes the Old Trafford giants’ return to the women’s game is a huge boost to the sport and shows the fine work being doing.
“It’s fantastic,” she said. “It’s exactly what we need and what we want to see – more organisations investing in the women’s game because they see the value, because they see the opportunity and potential and that’s what you have here.
“It is something that’s contagious and catches fire and the other clubs, you know, investing in their teams 100 per cent inspired this and what you hope is that it inspires the next club and that’s how the global game moves forward.”
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