Arsenal legend, Rachel Yankey, has joined the coaching set-up at London Bees.

With 22 honours picked up at Arsenal, the word ‘legend’ is not one that is used lightly when it comes to talking about Yankey.

Now 38, the former forward, hung up her boots in 2016 after her second spell with the club. She also picked up a record 129 caps for England.

“I’m delighted to be joining the London Bees coaching team,” Yankey told the official Bees website. “On a personal level this is a great opportunity for me and I am excited to be able to pass on my footballing experiences and help develop this talented group of players”.

rachel yankey london bees

Luke Swindlehurst, Head Coach of London Bees, added: “We are delighted to welcome Rachel to the coaching team here at London Bees, It’s a huge boost for the club and players that we can welcome an experienced professional such as Rachel. I’ve been looking for a coach to come in and help develop the players towards the highest level. I’m confident with Rachel’s experience from elite environments we will only benefit from having her with us.

“I’m passionate about helping develop female coaches and we are excited that Rachel can now get started on developing her own coaching while also improving performance on the pitch. Modeling her elite standards I’m sure will have the positive impact which takes us onto the next level.” 

Speaking back in January, Yankey called for more female coaches in the game when Phil Neville was announced as the new manager of the England Women’s team.

“I don’t think Emma ever wanted the job, I’m not totally sure on Mo either,” she told Betfair. “We’ve got to increase the number of female coaches out there so that when opportunities like this come knocking there are twice as many females going for the job as male.

“I think this appointment will boost the profile of the game and we will see more role models and former male footballers going into the women’s game.

rachel yankey
HIGH WYCOMBE, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 16: Steph Houghton of Manchester City Women tackles Rachel Yankey of Arsenal Ladies during the FA WSL Continental Cup Final between Arsenal Ladies and Manchester City Ladies at Adams Park on October 16, 2014 in High Wycombe, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

“You could look at that as ‘a bad thing for female coaching and the women’s game’, but really I would look at it from the perspective of the profile of the game and boosting spectatorship.”

She also revealed that she used to shave her hair and change her name to play on the boy’s team when she was younger.

“I did shave my hair and did call myself Ray to pretend to be a boy,” Rachel admitted. “Purely because it was easier. Everybody thought I was a boy when they watched me play football, they’d say ‘you play football like a boy!’

“So if I pretended to be a boy then no-one really had a problem with me playing football, so that was really why I did it. The other players and my team didn’t really mind to be honest.

“They weren’t really bothered if they called me Rachel or Ray, at the end of the day they judged me as a footballer and if I was helping them win then it was all okay!”