Women's Team

Khadija Shaw: 10 things you didn’t know

City have bolstered our attacking options with the signing of Jamaica international Khadija Shaw.

The free-scoring forward becomes our second signing of the summer, following in the footsteps of England starlet Ruby Mace.

Here are 10 things you may or may not know about our new Blue…

1 | Happy Bunny 

Khadija is rarely called by her actual name – instead, everyone uses her nickname ‘Bunny!’ 

It’s a moniker she’s had since she was a child, given to her by her brother Kentardo because of her love of carrots! 

“I had it from when I was very small,” she explains. “In Jamaican culture, you have your Sunday dinner – rice and peas with curried chicken or jerk chicken or fried chicken – and my mum would always make me carrot juice. 

“They say that when you drink carrot juice, it makes your vision brighter so I would drink, drink, drink it! 

“From constantly wanting carrot juice, my brother gave me the name ‘Bugs Bunny.’  

“At the beginning, I hated it! He went and told all of his friends and all of my friends. It got really repetitive and one day, I thought: ‘I’m going to embrace this name’ and it’s stuck ever since. 

“Now, everybody calls me ‘Bunny’ but my brother is the only one who calls me ‘Bugs.’”

2 | Mancunian ties 

She has always wanted to play in England and has family in Manchester – and she’s already been warned about the rain! 

“My dad’s side of the family live in Manchester!” she reveals. 

“I hadn’t spoken to my dad’s side of the family for a very long time. When I told them I’m going to come and play for City, they were losing it – they were so excited! 

“I’ve heard about the rain, speaking with a few people, but I’m open! I’ve never been in a situation where it rains all the time so it will be a different experience but I take anything – good or bad – in my mind. 

“Playing in England is a great opportunity for me to go out and enjoy myself and have some fun!” 

3 | 20/21 vision 

The striker will wear the squad number 21 – a figure she believes is a special one, marking a year to remember. 

“For me, 2021 has been a crazy year with the Coronavirus pandemic but also with how I’ve managed to develop, scoring 21 goals,” she smiles. 

“Having all the success that I’m having, I just think it’s a year for me to remember and always look back on to say: ‘This happened in 2021.’ 

“That was one of the main reasons I chose the number 21.”

4 | Strike gold 

Prolific, tall and physical, Khadija says she models her game on Polish forward Robert Lewandowski, deeming her best attributes as her strength, dynamism in and around the box and willingness to put the team first. 

“I’m a very simple player,” she reflects. “I’m physical and I just try to do my best. 

“Attacking players are very exciting. I like Robert Lewandowski. I always watch him play. I think he’s a great player. He plays in the same position I do and he’s somebody I look up to. 

“He’s scored a lot of goals and I try to make his plays – the way he makes his runs – and that helps me. 

“I’m up and coming – a bit of an underdog – and I’m very excited. I can’t wait to come in and start training.” 

5 | Wing wonder  

With 42 goals in 30 appearances, Shaw stands as her country’s all-time record goalscorer (in the male and female game) and has earned a reputation as one of the hottest offensive prospects in the world. 

Although she is best-known as a number nine, she can also play on the wing – an exciting prospect given City’s tendency to play with a potent attacking trident up top. 

“A lot of people see me as a number nine but personally, I’m open,” she adds. “Whatever task I’m given, I’m open to learning and I try to execute that in my game. 

“It’s all about learning and developing. A lot of the time, you grow when you come out of your comfort zone. 

“I love attacking – being in the box and scoring goals – and once the team is happy, I’m happy too. I do whatever I can to help the team at all times – for me, the team comes first.” 

6 | Familiar faces 

Our new recruit is already familiar with most of the City squad, having watched our World Cup stars on television and having played against some of them at both Club and international level. 

Having steered Jamaica to their first World Cup tournament – her greatest achievement to date – Shaw bagged a brace in a five-goal pre-tournament friendly thriller with Caroline Weir’s Scotland, with our Nissan Goal of the Season winner also on the scoresheet. 

Shaw also faced Champions League winners Lucy Bronze and Alex Greenwood while the pair were at Lyon, as well as Janine Beckie in the CONCAF. 

“I’m really excited to meet the girls,” she added. “I’ve watched quite a few of them – most of them play in the World Cup – and I’ve also played against Janine Beckie quite a few times in the CONCAF region with our national teams. 

“I’ve never talked to her in person but I’ve played against her a lot. 

Lucy Bronze is an amazing player. You can see her willingness to want to win and put the team first. 

“Her grind, the way she plays, her motivation, the way she motivates others… it’s amazing. 

“Everybody is unique in their own way and I’m excited to see the camaraderie in the team. It will be different and interesting to see how all of the different cultures merge together.” 

7 | “Be yourself” 

Khadija’s love of football began in the streets of her hometown – she was drawn to the excitement and the passion she saw from the spectators! 

Although her mother had raised concerns about whether her daughter should take part, the 24-year-old’s love for the game shone through and now she stands proudly as a role model to all young Caribbean boys and girls – a status she is very proud of. 

Khadija says the best piece of advice she has been given is simply: “to be yourself.” 

“In the streets, I had lot friends who played football in the street,” she recalls. “Jamaica is known more for the Olympics but I saw my neighbours playing football. 

“Watching and seeing people gathering and the noise, excitement, joy and fun, I thought: ‘What is so special about this sport? I want to be part of this. I want to be in the moment.’ 

“That’s what drove my and got me involved in the sport.

“In the beginning, I was just playing with my neighbours and friends but as time went by, I could see the passion and the drive – sometimes, I would be the first one of there, waiting for everyone else to appear! 

“From that moment, I knew I wanted to play professional football, inspiring your girls and boys in my country.

“Qualifying for the World Cup was such a big thing – not just for me but for my country.  

“A lot of young girls didn’t think it was possible for a small country like Jamaica to compete and quality for a World Cup. It changes their mindset, their drive.  

“People always ask me: ‘How do you do it? What does it take to get to that level?’ 

“I always want to go out and give my best because other people are looking forward to seeing me and people want to be like me. To be on that stage also inspires others. It’s definitely my career highlight. 

“The most important piece of advice is: to be yourself. Never change for anyone. You’re doing everything for you. At the end of the day, people are always going to talk; you can’t make everyone happy in the world but you can make yourself happy. 

“If you see an opportunity for you to grow, go. You have to take that chance. The only way you’ll know if it’s right for you if is you do it. 

“Growing and wanting to develop and reaching the sky is important. If you always stay stagnant, you’ll never know what it’s like to reach the top. Take that step, take that chance.”

8 | A true inspiration 

Khadija has achieved so many great things at such a young age and her achievements are all the more impressive, given the 24-year-old has overcome unimaginable personal tragedy. 

She sadly lost four brothers – three to gang-related violence – and two nephews and has shown incredible mental strength and determination to go on to achieve her dreams. 

Hailed for her ‘remarkable’ ability to ‘overcome adversity, help others and set a sporting example’, she was named The Guardian Footballer of the Year in 2018. 

The forward believes her experiences have playing their part in shaping her career and mindset, and hopes that her success can help to inspire others. 

“I use the opportunity to inspire others,” she says. “Everybody is not going to have the same path or a similar background. 

“I try to take it so somebody can say: ‘Bunny has got this far, maybe I could do the same.’ 

“It has been difficult but I try to use it in a positive way: to inspire others. My family have always supported me, always tried to encourage me. 

“In football, you’re going to have a lot of setbacks. It’s how you bounce back from them those setbacks is what can define you as a person and a player. 

“Having that background growing up – when I was so young – I tried to use it to propel me in case something might happen or I struggled or found something difficult. 

“I can always say: I’ve been through worse.’ It’s a matter of continuing progressing, staying positive in your mind.  

“Mentally, it’s what is going to help you to overcome what you’ve bene through or what challenges you had. 

“This is a proud moment for my family right now.”

9 | Winner, winner, chicken dinner! 

Aside from family and friends (and probably the weather!), Khadija says the one other thing she will miss from back home in Jamaica is the food – jerk chicken in particular! 

“You can go to another country and have similar food but the culture and the food and the background is something you definitely miss,” she admits. 

“Hopefully, when my family come to visit me in England, they can bring some with them! 

“My favourite food is jerk chicken. From being young, it’s always been something I really get excited about when I’m having it!” 

10 | Communication skills 

Shaw spent four years at college in America, studying and playing ‘soccer’ at Eastern Florida State and the University of Tennessee. 

During her time in the States, she earned National Junior College Athletic Association All-America honours, was named in the All-SEC first team and was awarded SEC Offensive Player of the Year as a senior in 2018. 

She opted to study a degree in Communications to help her to overcome her shyness in interviews! 

“That’s a crazy story!” she laughs. “I always wanted to play professional soccer but I’d always been shy growing up – I never wanted to talk; I always wanted to sit in the back. 

“My culture always told me: ‘If you want to be a professional athlete, you have to do interviews and be in front of the camera.’ 

“I was like: ‘Oh! How am I going to be able to do this?’ so going into college, I thought about it for a very long time and I thought: ‘I can use this to my advantage.’ That’s why I got involved in Communications Studies. 

“For me, it was an opportunity for me to graduate and get a degree. I could see that in the future, it would be useful. After I retire from football, I can do something with my degree.  

“[Leaving home to go to college] was very difficult. It was the first time I had left my country and in the beginning, my mum didn’t want me to leave. 

“Dad said: ‘Let her go, let her experience life for herself and see what it’s like. If she doesn’t like it, she can always come back home.’ 

“It was very difficult for me mentally. All of my life, I had always had family and a support system around me. 

“It was a challenge but you want to see how well you can do when you’re given different challenges that might come to you.”