Ashleigh Plumptre becomes first WSL player to join Saudi League side Al-Ittihad

Ashleigh Plumptre

Leicester-born Nigerian Centre-back Asheigh Plumptre has become the first Female footballer from the Women’s Super League to join a club based in Saudi Arabia. She has joined Saudi Women’s Premier League side Al-Ittihad to become the most high profile name to arrive in the Female football scene at the gulf country.

Plumptre had an offer from Manchester United as well but she chose to follow the footsteps of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema to go and enjoy “money” and football at Saudi Arabia. We saw Saudi clubs lure players from Europe with lucrative and mouthwatering deals, all this summer.

And Al-Ittihad’s move for Ashleigh Plumptre, who has played for England at Youht levels, clearly indicates that Saudi is getting ready to empower their Women’s footballing system as well. The 25-year-old fulfilled her contract with Leicester City on July 13 and will join Ittihad as a Free agent.

The Left-footed CB took to Instagram to express delight upon beginning a new journey at a new country. “Grateful to have signed for Al-Ittihad. Excited to start this journey alongside some incredible human beings. My journey of stepping into more of myself continue. It’s more than football.” – Plumptre wrote.

After starting her Club youth career in 2002, Plumptre signed her first professional contract with Notts County Ladies FC in 2014 before spending 4-years with LA Galaxy OC. She moved to her childhood side Leicester in 2020 and after 3 years in England, a new journey for her will start from October 13th in the Saudi Women’s Premier League.

In terms of her national career, Ashleigh played for England’s U-15, U-17, U-19 and U-23 teams where she played UEFA Women’s U-17 championship twice. But in 2021, she followed her desire to play for Nigeria at Senior level and by December of that year, FIFA officially cleared her to make the switch.

Earlier this year, the 25-year-old featured for Nigeria in the FIFA Women’s World 2023. She was an important part of the side that defeated hosts Australia by 3-2 in Nigeria’s 2nd group stage fixture. The Super Eagles reached all the way to Round of 16, losing to eventual runners-up England.

Ashleigh Plumptre played 375 minutes of World cup, making 1.5 tackles, 2 Interceptions and 2.5 clearances per match.

Now that she has signed for Al-Ittihad, the question is, will her presence influence other female footballers to play in Saudi Arabia? Time will tell.