Deanna Cooper has left Chelsea FC Women following the end of her contract.

The defender joined the club from London Bees in 2017 ahead of Chelsea’s triumphant Spring Series, where she played a key part in the heart of our defence.

Although Cooper impressed manager Emma Hayes with her one-v-one defensive qualities during the shortened season, the 26-year-old suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in our 2017/18 pre-season which kept her sidelined for much of the season. Cooper returned at the end of our Double-winning season and came off the bench in the Blues’ final home game against Sunderland.

She has been a reliable servant for the club and has not let the side down when called upon. In total she has made 29 appearances, 22 of which were as a starter and the centre-half found the net three times, all of which came in the Continental Tyres League Cup.

She opened her Chelsea account against Tottenham Hotspur in our 2018/19 cup run and her second came the following season against the same opponent. She saved her best strike until last against Reading in December. The ball bounced 30 yards from goal and Cooper fired home an unstoppable strike to level the scoring in the cup fixture.

Hayes said of the departing player: ‘To watch a player fulfil their dream, coming from the place she has, fighting to prove she deserves to be at this level, is one of the reasons I go to work as a coach.

‘Her contribution in the Spring Series was international class. Her injuries made it difficult at a big club like ours to get back in the team on a regular basis, but what a valuable team member she has been, on and off the pitch.

‘I’m sad to lose the person, but I’m excited to see the player that I know she can be.’

Chelsea Women would like to wish Deanna the best of luck for the future.