Claire Rafferty

Date of birth: 11 January 1989
Place of birth: Orpington
Position: Left-back
International: England senior
Trophies won at Chelsea: FA WSL 2015, FA Women’s Cup 2015, FA WSL Spring Series 2017

Our longest-serving player, Claire Rafferty is a hugely experienced defender and, as well as being a regular for Chelsea at club level, has played at the World Cup and Olympic Games.

Kent Magpies, a local team, were Rafferty’s first side at the age of 10, before she made the switch to Millwall.

In 2007 she joined Chelsea and her early days at the club were largely spent operating on the left of midfield.

In May 2012 she was part of the Blues team beaten on penalties in the FA Cup final by Birmingham City. The game had ended 2-2 after extra-time with Chelsea having led twice, and later that same summer Rafferty was part of the Team GB squad which reached the quarter-finals at the London Olympics.

Strong in the tackle, Rafferty is a solid defender but also possesses the ability to provide a real attacking threat.

In 2014 she was part of the team which lost out on the title on goal difference on the final day of the season following a 2-1 defeat at Manchester City.

The 2015 campaign, however, is one that will live long in the memory for all connected with the club as Chelsea Ladies won the first two trophies in our history – the FA WSL title and Women’s FA Cup.

The FA Cup was secured in August courtesy of a 1-0 win over Notts County at Wembley and, as the club’s longest-server Rafferty was invited to join captain Katie Chapman in holding the trophy aloft.

More was to come a few months later when we were crowned champions following an incredibly consistent campaign. Rafferty, a regular throughout, played an integral role and opened the scoring in a crucial 2-1 win over Notts County three matches from the end of the season.

Once again, she was encouraged by Chapman to assist in the lifting of the trophy when the title had been secured in recognition of her service to the club.

Injuries hit Rafferty at crucial times throughout 2016, thankfully the majority of which were minor niggles rather than the serious knee problems which robbed her of years at a time, although she suffered a concussion while on England duty after being hit by a ball.

A mid-season switch to a more advanced position at left wing-back paid immediate dividends when she scored a well-taken brace in a 5-0 drubbing of Sunderland in June 2016, and she shared some of her experiences from the season as a blogger for this website.

Unfortunately the 2017 Spring Series campaign was one filled with frustration. While the serious injury problems of old thankfully had not resurfaced, a series of niggly fitness concerns restricted her to only three appearances.

Rafferty has represented England since Under-15s level, and in 2011 was named in the squad for the World Cup in Germany. She was handed her debut in the competition at the quarter-final stage as the Lionesses were beaten on penalties by France.

Four years later she was again part of the England World Cup squad, this time for a tournament in Canada as Mark Sampson’s side finished with bronze medals. Rafferty was first-choice left-back throughout the competition.