Sunderland Lady Rachel Furness burning brightly after landmark 50th Northern Ireland cap

Rachel Furness.
Rachel Furness.
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Sunderland Ladies midfielder Rachel Furness reached her landmark 50th international cap on Friday evening.

But it was a mixed night for the Northern Ireland international as, despite scoring a stunning effort from 40 yards, her side were beaten 8-1 by Switzerland.

We came up against a Switzerland side who were very strong on the ball.

The Sunderland-born midfielder, who originally joined the Lady Black Cats in 2004 before spells at Newcastle United and Grindavik, qualifies to play for Northern Ireland through her mother, who was born in Belfast.

She made her international debut in 2005 and has gone on to represent her country in both World Cup and European Championship qualifying campaigns.

After achieving her 50th cap, Furness said: “It was brilliant.

“I got my first senior cap in 2005 and now, at 27, to get my 50th cap was a very proud moment and a great honour.

“I was captain on the night as well which really topped it off.”

While Furness was delighted to achieve this milestone, she admitted it was far from the result she was looking for.

“We came up against a Switzerland side who were very strong on the ball.

“Nothing really went right for us and we need to learn from that.”

One positive to take from the evening, however, was Furness’ stunning long range strike which came with her side five goals down.

“To get a goal and take my tally up to 14 goals is a great feeling, but in the circumstances it didn’t get us in back in the game.

“I’m still the leading goalscorer for Northern Ireland at the minute as well, which is great.”

Over her decade in international football, Furness is able to pick out some key memories.

“That goal and the 50th cap are definitely highlights, just maybe not the other 89 minutes of the game!

“My debut first ever senior cap was brilliant as well.

“We played Slovakia at home and I set up the first and scored the winner in a 2-1 win.

“Being a 16-year-old and getting my first senior cap was a very proud moment.

“I scored a hat-trick in a World Cup qualifier against Croatia as well, and that stands out.”

The defeat against Switzerland sees the Green Girls sitting in fourth place in Group Six of the Euro qualifiers, but Furness believes there is more to come from her side.

“We’ve got a chance of qualifying,” she said. “We have a very young and inexperienced squad, but hopefully we can compete in the group and finish as high as possible.

“The men were fourth seeds in their group and we’re the same, so hopefully we can follow in their footsteps and qualify for the finals.”

And with the milestone of 50 caps reached, Furness has set her next target.

“It would be a dream to get to 100 caps.

“I’ll continue to play and hopefully I’ll hit that milestone if my legs carry me for long enough.

“But I just take every cap as it comes and I’m proud whenever I play for Northern Ireland.”