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Striker with Saskatchewan ties joins Manchester City women's team
Canada's Janine Beckie, left, and United States' Kelley O'Hara vie for the ball during second half women's friendly soccer action in Vancouver on Thursday, November 9, 2017. Canadian international striker Janine Beckie has joined the Manchester City women's team in a transfer from Sky Blue FC of the NWSL. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, August 9, 2018 10:57AM CST
Canadian international striker Janine Beckie has joined the Manchester City women's team in a transfer from Sky Blue FC of the NWSL.
Beckie who turns 24 on Aug. 20, signed with the English team on Wednesday night after a whirlwind week of negotiation.
"It's a really exciting time," Beckie told The Canadian Press. "I'm still a bit on Cloud 9 . . . This really is a very great dream come true."
Manchester City has already started its pre-season. Beckie expects to join her new team after attending camp with Canada prior to a Sept. 2 friendly against Brazil in Ottawa.
Manchester City opens play in the Continental Tyres Cup on Aug. 19 at Birmingham City with the league opener Sept. 9 at Chelsea.
Beckie, whose parents came from Saskatchewan, grew up in Colorado and has holds Canadian and U.S. citizenship. She has strong ties here with most of her relatives still in Saskatchewan.
When John Herdman took over the Canadian women's program in 2011, he tasked assistant coach Andrew Olivieri with scouring U.S. schools for under-23 players with Canadian ties.
Since making her senior debut in November 2014, Beckie has paid back that faith with 22 goals in 43 appearances for Canada and become the team's most potent offensive threat.
A star at Texas Tech, where she became the Red Raiders' all-time leading scorer with 57 goals, Beckie was taken by the Houston Dash in the first round (eighth overall) in the 2016 NWSL college draft. Sky Blue acquired her in a trade in January.
In a statement, Beckie thanked Sky Blue for accepting the transfer and allowing her to pursue her soccer dream.
Manchester City (12-4-2) was runner-up to Chelsea last season in the domestic FA Women's Super League. City won the Women's FA Cup in 2017 and the league and Continental Cup in 2016.
"Top of the line, the best women's environment in the world, in my opinion," Beckie said of her new soccer home. "And so I'm really proud of myself for doing what I could to get their attention and make my way over there. It's a dream environment, I think, for any footballer.
"They're definitely a very talented, very well-coached, organized side and somewhere that I think that I'm really going to find a lot of success and hopefully win a couple of championships. It's going to be a dream come true to play in the Champions League and I'm really looking forward to be in an environment that's going to help me peak for next summer (at the World Cup)."
Man City has also reached the semifinals of the Women's Champions League the last two seasons, losing to eventual winner Lyon both times.
The Manchester City men's side, under coach Pep Guardiola, is defending Premier League champion and the gold standard of English club soccer.
Beckie, who scored three goals in the 2016 Rio Olympics to help Canada win bronze, is the latest Canadian to head to Europe. Defender Kadeisha Buchanan (Lyon) and fullback-midfielder Ashley Lawrence (Paris Saint-Germain) are already making their mark at big clubs.
"Janine has all the attributes to become one of the best strikers in the world," said agent Alan Naigeon of A&V Sports Group, who also counts Buchanan as a client.
A good finisher, Beckie is skilled at corralling the ball and then making it do what she wants. Against Zimbabwe at the Olympics, she acrobatically redirected a Josee Belanger cross in for one of her two goals in the game. Against France in the quarter-final, she hauled in a Shelina Zadorsky pass before delivering an accurate chip to Sophie Schmidt at the far post for Canada's winner.
The road to Rio was not without its bumps. Herdman, now coach of the Canadian men's team, did not select Beckie for the 2015 World Cup. Instead he sent her to the Pan-American Games, where she flourished.
Other Canadian women in Europe include goakeepers Erin McLeod and Stephanie Labbe, defender Shannon Woeller and midfielder Schmidt.
Desiree Scott, now with Utah Royals FC in the NWSL, previously played in England for Notts County.