Former Liverpool captain Gemma Bonner will return to the Reds in 2023 (Photo by LFC Foundation/Getty Images)

Liverpool re-sign title-winning captain – “It just feels like she’s coming home”

Former Liverpool captain and Women’s Super League champion Gemma Bonner will return to the Reds for a second spell beginning January 1.

The 31-year-old defender led Liverpool to back-to-back WSL titles in 2013 and 2014 before leaving for Manchester City in 2018.

The festive timing of the club’s announcement is appropriate: Leeds-born Bonner, who joins from National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) side Racing Louisville, once wrote to Santa Claus to ask for a Liverpool kit for Christmas.

Bonner said: “It’s a pretty special moment for me. I still pinch myself when I’m coming into Anfield.

“I’m super excited to be back and I can’t wait to pull the shirt on again and get out there with the girls and get back playing for Liverpool.

“I was here for quite a while before and it was a hard decision to leave, but I think I always knew within myself that one day I would love to come back to Liverpool. Now the time feels right.

“One of the proudest things I’ve done is lifting those trophies, especially back-to-back.

“I have some incredible memories of my time here previously. Growing up as a Liverpool fan it probably means that little bit more. Seeing my shirt today with the name on the back again was almost a little emotional.”

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - Sunday, September 18, 2022: Liverpool's Katie Stengel (2nd from R) celebrates after scoring her side's first goal during the FA Women’s Super League match between Liverpool FC Women and Chelsea FC Women at Prenton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Reds were promoted back to the WSL earlier this year after a dominant performance in the Championship, shocking champions Chelsea with a win in their first home contest of the 2022/23 WSL campaign.

American striker Katie Stengel has enjoyed a prolific start to the ninth-placed side’s season with six goals, leaving her level with Chelsea’s Fran Kirby in third place in the competition.

“The team have started really well,” said Bonner.

“They’ve got good foundations and are definitely building. Hopefully I can come in and contribute to the continued progression.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 5, 2013: Liverpool Ladies captain Gemma Bonner holding the Women's Super League trophy with manager Matt Beard as the team parade around at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Bonner’s 115 appearances over her previous six-year stint with Liverpool still remains the second-highest for the club over the professional era, behind only Ashley Hodson.

The signing will also reunite the centre-back with manager Matt Beard, who steered Liverpool from 2012-2015 and had spells at Boston Breakers, West Ham and Bristol before returning in 2021.

“It was too good an opportunity to pass up bringing Gemma back to the football club,” said Beard, who also managed Bonner at Chelsea before both joined Liverpool.

“We had a great working relationship before and she will bring leadership and experience to the team.

“She’s won everything in England with Liverpool and Man City and has now experienced America to broaden her horizons and open her eyes to different football cultures.

“It just feels like she’s coming home.”