The rise of Shelina Zadorksy.

In this special we look the rise, the fall and the rebirth of Tottenham Women’s captain Shelina Zadorky who has proved no matter how many setbacks one faces in life determination will get you back to the top.

Shelina Zadorsky with the Michigan Wolverines. Photo: Michigandaily.com

It hasn’t been all plain sailing for Shelina, but she has demonstrated how determination can get you to the top matter how many setbacks one faces in life. Shelina started her soccer/football journey in 2006 where at the age of 14 Shelina represented Canada at youth level. Two years later at the age of 16 Shelina won Bronze with Canada’s U17 at the 2008 CONCACAF Women’s U-17 Championship. Shelina also represented Canada at the 2008 U-17 World Cup in New Zealand and the 2010 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Guatemala. Shelina went on to win silver at the U-20 Championships in Panama (2010) and represented Canada in 2012 at the U-20 World Cup in Japan.

2008 U-17 World Cup in New Zealand. Photo: Canada Soccer.

During 2010 and 2013 Shelina attended the University of Michigan, on January 2013 at the age of 20 Shelina’s dream became a reality when she made her debut with the senior team against South Korea. Two years later Shelina finished top goal scorer for Canada with 2 goals in the Pan American Games in Toronto, unfortunately for Zadorsky she did not make the roster for the 2015 World Cup which was held in Canada.
Unfortunately Canada were unable to lift the trophy on home soil as they fell 2-1 to England at the Quarter Finals stage.

Canada eliminated from the 2015 World Cup. Photo: the National Post.

Shelina Reborn.

Missing out on a place on the World Cup roster on home soil must be enough to knock anyone’s confidence, Sheina has always been a perfectionist on the field and this set back as well as putting so much pressure on herself lead to anxiety off the field. One can imagine the heartache of not being able to represent one’s country on the biggest stage/tournament in a soccer/footballer’s career can make or break a player. Many never recover and others become stronger and more motivated and for Shelina the latter is most definitely more fitting. After having spent time at Ottawa Fury (2013-14), Perth Glory (2014-15) and Vittsjö GIK (2015-16), Shelina moved to the NWSL signing for the Washington Spirit for the 2016-17 season. Motivated by missing out on the Canada roster a year earlier Zadorsky was motivated to prove her worth and make the Canada roster for the 2016 Olympics. Zadorsky settled in in no time and became a reliable rock at the defence of the Washington Spirit. Zadorsky managed 32 starts and guided the Spirit to 2nd place in the regular season 2 points behind Portland Thorns, all this in her debut season in the NWSL and for the Spirit whereas the season before Washington finished 4th. Zadorsky was also part of the same team that reached the 2016 NWSL Playoff final where it finished 2-2 after extra time and were only defeated 3-1 in the cruelest manner, a penalty shootout.

Newcomer of the Year 2016. Photo: by Washingtonspirit.com

Shelina proved that there is always room for improvement and rejection today does not mean it can not be turned into success tomorrow because her reward for all her hard work in her superb debut 2016 season was that Shelina was called up to represent Canada at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Shelina Zadorsky at the Rio 2016 Olympic Semi Finals. Photo: @shelina4 Twitter.

Being called up to one of the biggest competitions to represent ones country is an achievement in itself but to win a medal is beyond any players dream. That is exactly what Zadorsky and her team mates achieved on August 19th when this inspirational group of women defeated home nation Brazil 2-1 in Sãn Paulo in the 3rd place match with goals from Christine Sinclair and Deanne Rose.

Shelina Zadorsky with her bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Photo @Shelina4 Twitter.

After a superb debut season in the NWSL and winning a bronze medal with Canada in Rio, Shelina started to catch the attention of many unfortunately the 2017 campaign did not go to plan for the Spirit who finished 10th With Zadorsky being named club captain and making the 4th most appearances for the club. The Spirits downward spiral in 2017 can only be put down to the departure of many key players such as Ali Krieger, Christine Naire, Diana Matheson and Crystal Dunn with USWNT rising star Mallory Pugh joining the Spirit too late into the season.

Move to the sunshine state.

In 2018 the Orlando Pride who finished 3rd for the first time in their history in 2017 but unfortunately were hammered in the Semi Finals of the NWSL playoff identified their defence as an area that needed strengthening. Orlando were willing to give up one of the best goalkeepers in the NWSL Aubrey Bledsoe and their number one draft pick for 2019 in exchange for former Washington Spirit player of the year Shelina Zadorsky.

Aubrey Bledsoe (left), Shelina Zadorsky (right). Photo: courtesy of coeursdefoot.fr.

There was a lot of expectation for the 2018 season after the Pride acquired Poliana, Sydney Leroux, Emily Van Egmond, Christine Nairn and Shelina Zadorsk, unfortunately after a final 4 game losing streak the Pride were only able to finish in 7th place, 7 points off a playoff spot resulting in Pride boss Tom Sermanni leaving the club by mutual agreement. Orlando had one of the best rosters in the NWSL but he just could not get the best out of these players. Sometimes a team needs new blood and with players in our squad like Camila, Alanna Kennedy, Zadorsky, Monica, Tottenham new signing Chi Ubogagu, Marta not to mention World Cup winners Ashlyn Harris, Ali Krieger, Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux the Pride should be challenging year after year for the championship and it became clear that Tom could not take the Pride any further.

Orlando Pride 2018 squad. Photo: themanelane.com.

The 2019 season did not get any better, after the appointment of former Birmingham City boss Mark Skinner, the Orlando Pride finished bottom of the table winning just 4 games out of 24 with 4 draws and 16 defeats. I do not blame the players as the Pride have a fantastic group of players and one can see their desire, heart and passion to win, they just need the right guidance and I don’t believe Mark Skinner is that Person. 2020 was the year that everyone said Mark Skinner and the Pride would prove themselves but due to the current situation the Pride were unable to participate in the Challenge Cup and with the Olympics next year many players have opted to go abroad which has worked out fantastic for Tottenham with the loan signings of Alanna Kennedy, Shelina Zadorsky and Alex Morgan.

North London Bound.

In August 2020 our Lilywhites announced the loan signing of Shelina Zadorsky of Canada and the Orlando Pride. Zadorsky has made 66 appearances for Canada and has won bronze at the 2016 Olympics. At just 27 years of age Zadorsky has already achieved more than many do in their entire career and she clearly has no intention of slowing down. Zadorsky is a winner and plays with a lot of heart, yes it’s a new league, a new culture and the fact that games are currently being played with no fans is strange for any player but Shelina is a player that has proved in the past that she can adapt to any situation and seeing her performances for Canada, Washington and Orlando she is here to achieve something not just to make up the numbers. I have no doubt that Shelina will be a fan favorite in no time and will bring some calm and confidence to the defence just as Emma Mitchell did last season.

A Champion was born.

Fast forward to the summer of 2021, after what was a very difficult season for Shelina at Tottenham, Zadorksy was called up to the Canada squad for the Tokyo 2020 (2021) Olympics. Canada was drawn in Group E alongside host Japan, Chile and Great Britain. Canada started their campaign with a 1-1 draw against Japan with Christine Sinclair scoring for Canada on 6 minutes only to concede an equaliser 6 minutes from time with Mana Iwabuchi getting the goal for the hosts. Shelina started the game for Canada in the centre of defence alongside Kadeisha Buchanan playing the full 90 minutes for Canada.

In-game 2 Canada took on Chile where Canada ran out 2-1 winners with Janine Beckie getting both goals for Canada. Zadorksy again started the match in the centre of defence alongside Kadeisha Buchanan but unfortunately gave away the penalty for Chile’s goal after a review from VAR. Zadorksy again played all 90 minutes for Canada but despite giving away the penalty had a solid performance for the Canadians.

Canada took on GB in the final group game which saw Tottenham Captain benched in place of Jayne Riviere. Canada managed to get a draw with Adriana Leon getting the goal for Canada before Nichelle Prince scored an own goal 5 minutes from time to earn Team GB a draw which was enough for Canada to qualify second in Group E with 5 points, 2 behind GB on 7.

Canada took on one of the favourites Brazil in the Quarterfinals where despite a very entertaining match with Canada having 12 shots to Brazil’s 10 neither were able to score in 120 minutes. Shelina Zadorsky was again left on the bench for the match bringing up concerns over her fitness but despite the Tottenham skipper being left out Canada held out the Brazil front line and went on to win the match 4-3 on penalties setting up a semifinal matchup against rivals U.S.A.

CONCACAF Finalists meet again.

On August 2nd, Canada took on the most successful nation in women’s Olympic history, the United States of America. Canada has won Bronze at the last two Olympics and was looking to finally advance to an Olympic final. Despite the U.S’s average performances in the tournament, they were still favourites to beat the Canadians. Canada’s first shot on goal came in the 75th minute through a Jessie Fleming penalty after VAR awarded Canada a penalty after a Tierna Davidson challenge on Deanne Rose. Despite having possession the United States didn’t trouble the Canada defence until Carli Lloyd hit the bar for the U.S in the 86th minute with the U.S.A’s first clear chance of the game. Canada soaked up U.S pressure in the late stages of the match to advance to their first-ever Olympic final.

Canada’s first Olympic Final.

On August 6th Canada took on 2016 silver medalists Sweden in Yokohama which saw Tottenham Captain Shelina Zadorsky bench for a 3rd game in a row by Canada coach Bev Priestman. Canada played out a tough 1-1 draw against Sweden, which saw the Swedes have 24 shots to Canada’s 14 with both teams only managing 3 shots on goal each. Sweden dominated the first half and got their reward on 34 minutes through Stina Blackstenius. Canada came out in the second half like a new team and we saw the spirit that got them through against the U.S. in the semi-finals. After applying pressure and coming out like a new team Canada were awarded a penalty in the 68th minute after VAR looked at a challenge from Amanda Llestead on Sinclair which Jessie Fleming converted to put Canada Level. After a huge battle between both midfields, neither team was able to get a winner within 90 minutes.

Sweden dominated the first half of extra-time as Canada looked tired and rode their luck at times but the Canadian defence held strong and kept out Sweden. In the second period of extra time, Canada came out like a new team and regained control and put the Swedes under pressure who then rode their own luck but Canada was unable to get a winner. Shelina Zadorsky was introduced in the second period of extra time before the referee called an end to the game after 120 minutes. Sweden took the first penalty which Asllani missed by hitting the post, up stepped Fleming for Canada who converted her second of the match to give Canada the lead on penalties. Sweden then scored their next two penalties while Canada missed 3 in a row meaning Sweden just needed to score one to win the match and better their 2nd place finish in 2016. Sweden then missed three in a row with Stephanie Labbe saving from Joanna Anderson in sudden death before Julia Grosso’s penalty slipped under Hedvig Lindahl to give Canada a 3-2 win on penalties and their first Olympic final victory and our captain her first Gold medal.

Welcome back captain.

Tottenham took on Arsenal in the Mind Series at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium 48 hours after Shelina and Canada won Gold in Tokyo. Unfortunately, Shelina was unable to play in the 0-4 defeat but she did make a brief appearance and sent a message to all the fans via a Twitter video.

Video: @spurswomen Twitter.

Zadorsky made her first appearance for Tottenham in a pre-season match against Celtic at ST Georges Park on August 25th. Coming on in the 75th minute, Zadorsky had an immediate impact linking well with new signing Kyah Simon who set up Tang Jiali where our Lilywhites ran out 6-1 winners. Goals from Tottenham’s 6-1 win came from Graham x2, Naz and new signings Ale, Clemaron, and Tang. A full match report can be read at https://www.tottenhamhotspur.com/news/2021/august/spurs-women-hit-celtic-for-six/

A Hero’s welome.

As a fan of both the men’s and women’s game, it has been wonderful to see the support that Zadorsky has received from both sets of fan’s. Even the club has acknowledged Zadorsky’s achievements and received a champions reception on her return to training.

Video: @spurswomen Twitter.

The club paid tribute to Shelina’s achievements on Thursday 26th before Tottenham took on Pacos De Ferreira in the Europa Conference League 2nd leg at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Video: spurs women Twitter.

Zadorsky was presented with a gift by chairman Daniel Levy which was signed by both the men’s and women’s players.

Photo: @spurswomen Twitter.

Tottenham vs Birmingham.

Tottenham takes on Birmingham this weekend in the opening match of the WSL at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium which has been moved from the Hive. Hopefully, we will get to see our Gold medalist start alongside new signing Molly Bartrip in the centre of defence who impressed against Arsenal in the Mind Series along with Angela Addison and Maeva Clemaron. Tottenham vs Birmingham will kick off at 3 pm on Saturday, September 4th and will be shown live on the FA Player.

Published by womenssoccerfans

Orlando Pride and USWNT fan living in London. Member of the American Outlaws and a Tottenham women's fan in England and season ticket holder.

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