Manchester City Women have bolstered their squad this summer with a prolific striker at the peak of her powers ready to conquer another new league.
But that’s only the surface of what Khadija Shaw is hoping to impact during her new adventure at the Academy Stadium.
Shaw, 24, is Jamaica’s record goalscorer with 42 goals from 30 caps, and she arrives from Bordeaux having scored 31 goals in 33 games over two years. Her record in the US before moving to France is equally as impressive.
The striker, who is nicknamed ‘Bunny’, is not shy when discussing her ambitions after signing a three-year deal with the Blues.
“I want to win trophies,” she tells MEN Sport.
“I want to arrive at the end of the league competing and giving our all for what’s left. I want to win trophies and compete at the highest level and play good football.
“It’s an exciting and entertaining club. The style of play is what I like and what attracted me. Coming here I could be very successful and continue to grow as a player.
“I’m a typical number nine, I like to be in front of goal and have fun with the ball and do all I can to make things happen. That’s who I am, and everything that comes with it is a bonus.”
If the bonus for City is a continuation of her record of effectively a goal per game, they won’t be complaining. However, with stiff competition for places from Ellen White, Chloe Kelly, Lauren Hemp and Georgia Stanway, ‘Bunny’ might have to wait for her chance – especially in a completely new league.
“Each one helps one. They are going to help me as much as I am going to help them,” she said of the attacking players already at City.
Shaw is Jamaica’s all-time record goalscorer at just 24 years old.
“I’m sure we’ll all get better as the stages go on. It’s great environment and atmosphere I want to be at, especially at this stage of my career. I have a lot more in me to grow and improve. To be in that environment will definitely help me to progress.
“The manager [Gareth Taylor] has been great. I’m a person that puts pressure on myself. We’ve been communicating well about the transition from US to France and now to England. It’s going to take time. I just need to be patient with myself and get accustomed to the environment.”
Shaw is a person who has had a difficult journey from Spanish Town in Jamaica to Manchester, with her status as a role model back in Jamaica something that is as important to her as scoring goals.
“One of the reasons why I strive and give my all and give the best that I can is because a lot of kids back home think it’s not possible,” she explains.
“I was one of them, to make it out and be out in the world. It’s not impossible but you have to see that one person you can look back and see ‘oh that person did it’. Especially with my story and my background it can be a big boost for the young ones to come.”
That background is not an easy one to have experienced, with Shaw losing three brothers to gang violence, another in a car accident and two nephews in tragic circumstances all while she was playing in America. In an interview with the Guardian after being named their 2018 Footballer of the Year, she explained how the tragedies made her stronger.
She said: “I would say it definitely got me stronger. And even though it was a rough time, it helped me. You know, in the moment I wouldn’t have thought that. But now, to see what I’ve accomplished, knowing I’ve lost so much, I would say it definitely helped me. But it was rough.”
Now moving to England, Shaw is hoping to show youngsters in the Caribbean that football can offer a way out for those who need it.
With Leon Bailey moving to Aston Villa this summer, and Raheem Sterling celebrating his Jamaican roots when he sent a personalised message to Shaw after she signed, Jamaican football is on the rise and hopefully inspiring a new generation back home.
“As a nation you want to be playing a the highest level and in the exciting league,” she explained.
“Leon Bailey is coming to the Premier League and I’m here. It’s just the start. You have to have that person who starts it for others to follow. When I was growing up I didn’t have that person to follow in Jamaica to say ‘I want to be like that person when I grow up’.
“For Leon on the men’s side it’s a good boost for the youth, and for me also to show them it’s not impossible on both sides. You have Raheem Sterling but as a young girl they’ll think that’s men’s football so to have both men and women competing at the highest level it’s an inspiration to a lot of people.”
Shaw is looking forward to getting restaurant recommendations from Sterling now he’s back at the City Football Academy, and settling in with family she has in the UK.
And on the pitch, she believes her background can only improve City, as she looks ahead to what she hopes is a productive debut season in Blue.
“You want to have that diversity,” she said. “You want to have different options of playing. You don’t want to have the same way and similar players because it’ll be predictable. To have players competing in different leagues coming in, it’s something that’s different and can definitely help the team in terms of switching things up in a game. It will definitely help.”