Open main menu

Rachel Brown (born 2 July 1980) is an English former football goalkeeper who played for Liverpool from 1995 to 1998 and Everton from 2003 until 2014. A product of the American college system, Brown spent five years playing varsity soccer for Alabama Crimson Tide and Pittsburgh Panthers. She also spent the 2003 season on loan in the Icelandic Úrvalsdeild, playing for ÍBV.

Rachel Brown-Finnis
England Women's Vs USA (18472573216).jpg
Personal information
Full name Rachel Laura Brown[1]
Date of birth (1980-07-02) 2 July 1980 (age 39)
Place of birth Burnley, England
Height 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)[2]
Playing position Goalkeeper
Youth career
Accrington Ladies
College career
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1998–2000 Alabama Crimson Tide 41 (0)
2000–2003 Pittsburgh Panthers
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1995–1998 Liverpool
2003–2014 Everton
2003ÍBV (loan) 7 (0)
2014Arsenal (loan) 0 (0)
National team
1997–2013 England 82 (0)
2012 Great Britain 1 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Since making her debut for the England women's national football team in 1997, Brown won over 80 caps. She understudied Pauline Cope in her first years with the national team, then served as England's first choice goalkeeper at the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup and UEFA Women's Euro 2009. Due to injuries, Brown was displaced in the team by Karen Bardsley for the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup. She was also selected in the Great Britain squad for the 2012 London Olympics. Brown was the goalkeeper on Channel Five's Superstars and is employed by Everton FC's Community Project.[3] Outside of football, she is known as Rachel Brown-Finnis, due to her marriage to professional golfer Ian Finnis.

Club careerEdit

Early careerEdit

Brown was born in Burnley, Lancashire, and attended St Christopher's CE High School in Accrington.[4] She began playing football at primary school, in a boys' team.[5] Brown was assigned to the goalkeeper position: "They were reluctant to let me join in. It was a case of, 'OK, if you must play you'd better go in goal.'"[6] After a few years of not playing in a team, due to The Football Association (FA) rules which prohibited mixed gender teams, Brown joined Accrington Ladies.[5] Despite being younger than the required 14, Brown played local open age football for the club.[note 1]

Just after her 15th birthday, Brown joined Premier League National Division team Liverpool Ladies. She was scouted at an Easter holidays goalkeeping camp run by Bob Wilson in London, where Brown was the only female of 48 attendees.[5] After applying for the camp through Match magazine, Brown was presented with the Player of the Camp award by David Seaman.[7] Having expected to understudy Liverpool's experienced former England goalkeeper Tracey Davidson, Brown became first choice when Davidson quit football approximately three weeks later.[5]

Brown's Liverpool debut came against all–conquering Arsenal on the opening day of the 1995–96 season.[5] Liverpool lost the match, staged at Anfield, 6–0.[8] A decade later, Brown recalled the occasion: "It was very, very daunting – yeah we lost big time! Being thrown in the deep end was an understatement – I was only small and it was hard enough playing against women never mind some of the best players in the whole country."[5] The first season culminated in one of Brown’s early career highlights; participation in the 1996 FA Women’s Cup final at 15 years old with Liverpool.[9][note 2] After a 1–1 draw with Croydon at The Den, Liverpool and Brown, who was carrying an injury, ultimately lost on penalties after extra time.[10]

Brown remained with Liverpool while taking A–Levels at Nelson and Colne College.[11] In October 1997 she saved three times in a penalty shootout as the Reds eliminated Doncaster Belles in the first round of the FA Women's Premier League Cup.[12] In that season's FA Women's Cup Liverpool were thrown out after Jody Handley played in a 3–1 quarter final win over Millwall Lionesses without international clearance.[13]

United StatesEdit

In 1998, Brown moved to the United States where she attended the University of Alabama and played for the Crimson Tide soccer team. The Sunday Mirror reported in February 2000 that Brown had signed a two–year sponsorship deal worth £100,000 with Uhlsport.[14] In the same article Brown explained that she left England because Americans had a more positive attitude towards women's football. Dissatisfied with aspects of the culture in the Deep South,[7] Brown transferred to the University of Pittsburgh where she played for the Panthers soccer team and completed a degree in Sports Science.[3] She was named Goalkeeper of the Year for the Big East Conference every year and also holds the Panthers' record for the fewest goals conceded in a season.[15]

There was quite a lot of racism and that didn't sit easy with me. It's where the marches and riots were, where Rosa Parks was and it still felt really raw. They were only a generation away from black toilets and white toilets. There were Afro-American players in the sport but I felt quite awkward. I couldn't get my head around why people didn't hang out together. And the religion – there was hypocrisy with what people preached and what they then did. I did rebel. I told the coach that morally they weren't right. I was outspoken.—Brown on the culture in the Deep South.[7]

Return to MerseysideEdit

On returning to Liverpool, Brown found her old club relegated and languishing in the Premier League Northern Division.[7] She qualified as a PE Teacher at Liverpool John Moores University[3] and joined Everton Ladies in January 2003: "Everton were in the top division so I thought, 'change codes here, go to the Blues.'"[7] She spent the 2003 summer season playing in Iceland,[16] returning to Everton in August 2003.[17] In December 2003 Brown suffered a serious knee injury that kept her out of the game until June 2005.[18]

Danielle Hill played in goal for Everton in their 1–0 FA Women's Cup final defeat to Charlton Athletic in May 2005.[19] Hill also played as Everton shocked Arsenal in the final of the 2008 Premier League Cup.[20]

Brown played in her second FA Women's Cup final in 2010. Ahead of the match she told the Liverpool Echo: "I wouldn't say I'm in the twilight of my career but it's been a long time since 1996, so I'm very determined to put things right."[21] She collected her first winner's medal as Everton beat Arsenal 3–2 after extra time.

In December 2014, guest player Brown was taken to the 2014 International Women's Club Championship in Japan by wild card entrants Arsenal Ladies.[22] In January 2015, Brown decided to retire from football, citing that her body was telling her that it was time to stop.[23]

International careerEdit


Brown played eight times for the England Under–18 side[24] and made her senior debut, aged 16, in February 1997 against Germany. She entered play as a substitute for regular goalkeeper Pauline Cope, as England were beaten 6–4 in the friendly at Deepdale. Manager Ted Copeland also gave Brown some playing time in the next match, a 6–0 friendly win over Scotland at Bramall Lane on 9 March 1997.[25] Exactly a year later, Brown made her first home start in England's 1–0 World Cup qualifying defeat to Germany at The Den.[26]

In October 2000, when Cope was struck down with a stomach complaint on the morning of England's Women’s Euro 2001 qualification play–off in Ukraine, Brown took her place in England's 2–1 win.[27] By the time of a May 2001 friendly against Scotland at Bolton's Reebok Stadium, Brown had 11 senior appearances and was Cope's regular understudy.[28] Brown and Leanne Hall went to Euro 2001 as back–up to Cope, who played in all three games.[29]

After impressing at her hometown club Burnley, where she had been a season-ticket holder as a child[30] as England beat Australia 1–0 in September 2003,[31] she was asked to turn on the Christmas lights in Burnley – but she had to cancel as she was playing for England as they beat Scotland 5–0 in November at nearby Preston. After a long spell out with injury, Brown returned to the England team against Sweden in the last group game of Women’s Euro 2005.

Brown kept her place, and conceded two goals, as England qualified for the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup in China.

In May 2009, Brown was one of the first 17 female players to be given central contracts by the Football Association.[32] Brown started every game of England's women's 2009 campaign.

In September 2010 Brown was controversially sent off in England's 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying win over Switzerland. The Swiss forward Ramona Bachmann was criticised for her play acting that led to the dismissal.[33] Bachmann admitted there had been no foul and apologised for her actions,[34] and Brown's red card was rescinded on appeal.[35]

Great Britain OlympicEdit

In June 2012, Brown and Karen Bardsley were named as the goalkeepers in an 18–player Great Britain squad for the 2012 London Olympics.[36] Brown described her selection as the pinnacle of her career to date.[37] In 1996 Brown had been a ball girl at Legion Field for the Summer Olympics, while in America for coaching.[38]

Personal lifeEdit

Brown is inspired by the dedication of her friend, gymnast Beth Tweddle.[39] She married professional golfer Ian Finnis in January 2013.[40]

Injuries sustained by Brown include a dislocated finger, having her front teeth kicked out and several knee injuries besides her torn cruciate ligament. She is the possessor of "man hands" – large enough to pick up a football with one hand.[39] She has often been photographed to promote women's football.[6]

Brown attended St. Christopher's C of E High School in Accrington, Lancashire.[1]


  1. ^ Accrington Ladies founded in 1991 and merged with Accrington Girls Soccer Academy in 2004 to become Accrington Girls & Ladies FC. As of 2012–13 Brown was Honorary President of the club. She has also described her first club as Accrington Stanley, the name of two male clubs who have represented the town in the Football League.
  2. ^ At 15 years 302 days, Brown is sometimes reported as the youngest ever player to have appeared in a Cup final. But Sue Lopez notes that she played alongside Graham Roberts' sister Sharon, who was 13, in Southampton's 8–2 final win over QPR in 1978.


  1. ^ "Player Statistics". FIFA. Retrieved 13 October 2010.
  2. ^ "#1 Rachel Brown". The Sports Network. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2009.
  3. ^ a b c "About Me". Rachel Brown. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  4. ^ Rachel's cup of sorrow Lancashire Telegraph Accessed 2011
  5. ^ a b c d e f "England Women's Goalie Rachel Brown". BBC Liverpool. Archived from the original on 2 October 2010. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  6. ^ a b Cocozza, Paula (6 February 2004). "Is sex appeal the way to sell women's football?". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  7. ^ a b c d e Winter, Henry (25 August 2009). "England's Rachel Brown hoping to add a new chapter to an eventful life". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  8. ^ "The All Time Playing Records; Season 199596". Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  9. ^ "Rachel Brown". Octagon. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  10. ^ Forde, Sarah (29 April 1996). "Croydon spot chance for first cup victory". London: The Times. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  11. ^ "Soccer ace Rachel offered America placing". Burnley & Pendle Citizen. 20 January 1998. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  12. ^ Aldis, Colin A. "ENGLAND Clubs 1997 - 1998 Season". Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 30 July 2011.
  13. ^ "Red-faced Ladies are KO'd". Western Daily Press. 26 March 1998.
  14. ^ Smith, Paul (20 February 2012). "RACHEL IS FIRST SOCCER GIRL SET FOR pounds 1MILLION". Sunday Mirror. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  15. ^ "Rachel Brown profile". Pittsburgh Panthers. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  16. ^ "Rachel Brown". KSÍ. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  17. ^ "Everton make fifth signing". Fair Game. 22 August 2003. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  18. ^ "Everton goalie comes back from injury to represent England in UEFA European Women's Championships". Liverpool John Moores University. June 2005. Archived from the original on 1 November 2009. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  19. ^ "Charlton Women 1-0 Everton Ladies". BBC. 2 May 2005. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  20. ^ Tony Leighton (28 February 2008). "Everton stun gunners to win cup". BBC. Retrieved 4 September 2009.
  21. ^ O'Keeffe, Greg (29 April 2010). "Everton FC Ladies' keeper Rachel Brown desperate to finally taste FA Cup glory". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  22. ^ "Ladies announce tour squad". Arsenal L.F.C. 27 November 2014. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  23. ^
  24. ^ "READ UP ON TONIGHT'S ENGLAND STARS". Norwich City F.C. 23 July 2002. Archived from the original on 30 June 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2011.
  25. ^ "Scots in six-goal sickener". Daily Record. 10 March 1997. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  26. ^ Rowbottom, Mike (9 March 1998). "Football: Smisek sinks England women". The Independent. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
  27. ^ Leighton, Tony (31 October 2000). "England progressing well". BBC Sport. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  28. ^ "Goalkeeper warms up to European Championships". Burnley and Pendle Citizen. 26 May 2001. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  29. ^ "European Women Championship 2001 - Final Tournament Details". Retrieved 14 November 2010.
  30. ^ "Brown is glad to be on home turf". Lancashire Evening Telegraph. 29 August 2003. Retrieved 29 July 2009.[permanent dead link]
  31. ^ "Brown hopes for second successful homecoming". Fair Game. 28 October 2003. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  32. ^ "England Women awarded contracts". BBC Sport. 14 May 2009. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  33. ^ Tony Leighton (17 September 2010). "England coach Hope Powell criticises Swiss 'diving'". BBC. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  34. ^ "Sorry Rachel. Sorry England". 18 September 2010. Archived from the original on 21 September 2010. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  35. ^ "Rachel Brown wins appeal over England red card". BBC. 24 September 2010. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  36. ^ "Team GB women's squad for London 2012 announced". BBC Sport. 26 June 2012. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  37. ^ "Olympics selection 'the pinnacle' for GB's Rachel Brown". BBC Sport. 26 June 2012. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  38. ^ Boden, Chris (26 June 2012). "Burnley keeper Rachel Brown receives Olympic call!". Burnley Express. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  39. ^ a b John Koski (11 March 2011). "A whole different ball game: Meet the women aiming to win the World Cup". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 29 March 2011.
  40. ^ "Crosby wedding for England football star". Liverpool Echo. 10 January 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2015.

External linksEdit