Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp surprises Northern Ireland’s Rachel Furness with BBC NI Sports Personality of the Year award

Record-breaking midfielder Rachel Furness was on the end of a perfect delivery from Jurgen Klopp yesterday.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp surprises Northern Ireland's Rachel Furness with BBC NI Sports Personality of the Year award
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp surprises Northern Ireland's Rachel Furness with BBC NI Sports Personality of the Year award

The Liverpool boss surprised the Northern Ireland international at the club’s Merseyside training ground with the news that she had been chosen as BBC Northern Ireland Sports Personality of the Year.

The 33-year-old Liverpool midfielder played a starring role as the Northern Ireland women’s team defied the odds and qualified for next summer’s European Championships.

In November she made history by becoming Northern Ireland’s all-time top goal-scorer netting twice against North Macedonia to take her overall career tally to 38 international goals.

Rachel Furness is Northern Ireland's top goalscorer with 38 goals

Furness was given the award by Klopp, who congratulated her and the Northern Ireland team on their achievements this year and wished them success for the European Championships in 2022.

Rachel follows the likes of Rory McIlroy, Carl Frampton, David Healy and Jonathan Rea in collecting the annual honour.

She said: “It is a fantastic moment for me to be only the second woman to ever win this award, but it isn’t just about me, it is about my team.

“I want to dedicate this award to my team-mates in the Northern Ireland squad. Over the past 12 months we have achieved so much and hopefully this is just the start of something really special.”

The judging panel, led by Lady Mary Peters, selected Furness as the overall winner.

Special mention was made of the achievements of Paralympic Gold medallists Bethany Firth and Jason Smyth, as well as the Tyrone’s Senior Football team’s remarkable All Ireland Football Championship success.

Neil Brittain, executive editor of BBC Sport NI said: “In a year packed full of sporting achievement, the remarkable success of the Northern Ireland women’s international team really stood out for the panel.

“Rachel has been a truly inspirational sports star, leading by example in that team that has gone from strength to strength.

“She may have been injured for the play-off decider but one of the most memorable images of 2021 is her cheering her team-mates on from the side-lines with her crutches in the air. She battled back from that setback to break the record for international goals, and I have no doubt that in doing so, she has inspired a generation of young girls and boys to take up the game.”

The judging panel was chaired by BBC Sport NI’s Thomas Kane and included Olympic gold medallist Lady Mary Peters, Kenny Archer from the Irish News, executive editor of BBC Sport NI Neil Brittain, Darren Fullerton from the Daily Mirror, Sunday Life sports editor Jim Gracey.