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Houston Dash captain Rachel Daly transfers to Aston Villa

(Bryan Byerly/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

England women’s national team forward Rachel Daly has joined Women’s Super League club Aston Villa on a transfer from the NWSL’s Houston Dash, the two teams announced Tuesday.

Daly, who served as captain of the Dash and spent the last seven years with the club in the NWSL, recently won the Euros title with England.

She was drafted by Houston in the 2016 NWSL college draft and has appeared in 116 games for the club, helping lead them to the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup. In her tenure, she scored 42 goals and added 12 assists. Her 33 goals during the regular season stands as the most in club history.

Daly said she is stepping away in order to be closer to family.

“It pains me to say goodbye,” she wrote in a statement posted to her Twitter account. “This past year for myself and my family has been incredibly tough. The silver lining has been bringing football home and getting the opportunity to be around family. This made me realize this is exactly what I needed, to be home.”

Calling herself the Dash’s “number one fan from afar,” Daly says that the “club, the city and the people will always have a special place in my heart.”

“It’s been my honour to play and represent this city,” she added.

Daly has been regarded as the “face of the Houston Dash,” with the Houston Chronicle’s Danielle Lerner detailing her loyalty to the team despite the club having a hard time qualifying for the playoffs during her time in Houston.

“Rachel has been an integral part of the Houston Dash for seven years and she will be missed not only as a world-class footballer, but also as a driven and passionate leader on and off the pitch,” Dash president Jessica O’Neill said in a release. “This transfer will result in Rachel being much closer to her loved ones, a request we wanted to make every effort to honor. We’re deeply grateful for the commitment and loyalty she’s shown to this city and wish her the best in her next adventure.”

Daly has spent previous time in England with Leeds United, Lincoln Ladies and West Ham United. She now joins Aston Villa on a three-year deal and will play for the club as a forward.

“This is a big signing for us and one we’ve worked hard on completing. Rachel is a top forward and a proven goalscorer,” said manager Carla Ward. “Having performed admirably at full-back this summer, she showed us that she is a player you simply need in your team.”