Rachel Aba Yankey, OBE (born 1 November 1979) is an English footballer who plays for the English FA WSL club Arsenal, and for the England national team. She plays as a left winger or forward, and wears the number 11 for both Arsenal and England. She is of Ghanaian descent, from her father's side.
Since making her debut in 1997, Yankey has appeared on 126 occasions for England and is the most capped player ever to play for England, ahead of male goalkeeper Peter Shilton with 125. She was the second English female player, after Gillian Coultard, to make a century of international appearances. Yankey was selected in the Great Britainsquad for the 2012 London Olympics.
- 2 Club career
- 3 International career
- 4 Honours
- 5 Personal life
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Rachel Yankey began playing football as the only girl in a boy's team. Aged 8 she shaved her hair off, pretending to be a boy called 'Ray' (an acronym of her birth names). She was able to play in the boys team for two years before her real identity was discovered.
It was here that she was registered as the first professional female footballer in England. She joined Birmingham City before the 2004–05 season, and then, after being released from Birmingham, rejoined Arsenal for the 2005–06 season after a short spell with the New Jersey Wildcats of the W-League in the United States. Yankey, along with England team mate Rachel Unitt, played for the Wildcats for the last seven games of the season, and helped them win the W-League championship. In 2011 she helped Arsenal to another domestic treble.
Yankey became arguably the most famous female footballer in England. having modelled new England kits, and appeared on the FA women's homepage header. She is also noted for appearing in the BBC's online BBC Sport 'Academy Masterclasses' mini-series, teaching young footballers basic soccer skills.
In May 2009, Yankey was one of the first 17 female players to be given central contracts by the Football Association. However, in August 2009 she was surprisingly left out of coach Hope Powell's 22–player squad for Euro 2009 with Powell believing that her form did not justify a call–up. Yankey was also overlooked for the 2011 Women's World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Turkey. But after a return to form with Arsenal Ladies, she was recalled by Powell for the 2010 Cyprus Cup and won her 90th and 91st caps — as a 76th minute substitute for Jessica Clarke in a 1–0 win over South Africa and as a starter in a 1–0 defeat to Canada.
A return to form at both club and international level saw Yankey being selected regularly again by Powell, and on 29 July 2010 Yankey became the second Englishwoman afterGillian Coultard to earn 100 caps during a home World Cup qualifier against Turkey. Yankey, who was captain for the night, scored a goal and played the entire 90 minutes as England won 3–0.
In a World Cup warm–up friendly against the United States, Yankey hit the second goal in England's 2–1 win at Brisbane Road. At the final tournament Yankey netted in England's 2–0 group B win over Japan after coming on as a half–time substitute.
In June 2012 Yankey equalled Coultard's record of 119 appearances for England in a 4–0 win in Slovenia. She set a new record of 120 caps by playing in England's 3–0 win overCroatia at Bescot Stadium on 19 September 2012.
- Scores and results list England's goal tally first.
- FA Women's National Premier League (6) – 1996–97, 2005–06, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2009–10
- FA Women's Cup (7) – 1998, 1999, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013
- FA Women's Premier League Cup (4) – 1998, 1999, 2007, 2009
- UEFA Women's Cup (1) – 2007
- FA WSL (2) – 2011, 2012
- FA Women's National Premier League (1) – 2002–03
- FA Women's Cup (2) – 2002, 2003
- FA Women's Premier League Cup (3) – 2002, 2003
- New Jersey Wildcats
- Nationwide International Player of the Year (2004–05) season
- London Youth Games Hall of Famer (Class of 2011) 
Yankey was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2006 New Year Honours and Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2014 New Year Honours, both for services to football.
When not playing, or practicing, Yankey works as a coach in schools, teaching football to children. It was reported that Yankey's middle name came about as her Mother was a fan of ABBA, the Swedish pop group. However in 2010 Yankey indicated that it was actually related to her Ghanaian heritage.