Manchester United manager Marc Skinner has backed Katie Zelem to become a ‘legend’ of the club following her landmark 100th appearance in the weekend’s WSL opener against Reading.
Zelem, who was named club captain in 2019, is the only second player in United’s short history since reforming four years ago to reach the century milestone after Ella Toone.
The 26-year-old once more showed what she brings to the table on Saturday as United blew Reading away in the first half to go joint top of the table with Arsenal. Zelem is known a set-piece master, picking up two assists from corners and converting a penalty to put her name all over the victory.
Skinner has previously praised Zelem’s technical quality – at one stage last season she scored three goals direct from corners in the space of two consecutive games – but has also repeatedly pointed out what she gives the team as a captain and leader.
Speaking about her last season, Skinner said: “I’m a big believer that our relationships within the team make us better and she definitely makes other people shine with her qualities and abilities.”
After the weekend’s result, he commented: “I never understand [why she is unsung]. When I look at Katie Zelem, what people probably don’t see is the way she gels and connects other players together.
“I’m proud to have her as my captain. She is a real leader and I’ve met many inspirational footballers in my time but she is up there for me. She gives everything for this club. It’s a lovely story for her to get her goal, the assists and pick up her 100th cap.
“I saw her dad take her shirt at the end. You could see how much it means to [her family] as they are Manchester United fans as well. Katie can be a legend at this club.”
Zelem first joined United’s Girls’ Centre of Excellence at the age of eight and remained with the club for nine years. But without a first-team to progress to at that time, she had to leave in order to begin a senior career and had spells with Liverpool and Juventus, before returning to United in 2018.