Manchester United sold more shirts bearing the names of back-to-back Women’s World Cup winners Tobin Heath and Christen Press than any player in the men’s squad in the first three days after the huge double signing was announced last month.
It highlights the enormous impact the USWNT pair had off the pitch before a ball was even kicked.
It is expected that the quality Heath and Press have brought to an already strong United squad will help the club close the gap to the existing WSL ‘Big Three’ this season, potentially making into a ‘Big Four’. Yet the commercial exposure is also proving to be a huge additional boost.
Heath and Press are two of the most famous female players ever to have signed with an English club and the Daily Mail explained that their shirts were so in demand they initially outsold even the likes of Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford.
Indeed, Heath and Press jerseys were the club’s most popular of any player jersey, men or women, for the first three days after their respective arrivals last month.
Heath chose 77, a rather uncommon shirt number. The 32-year-old has a longstanding association with 17, which she wears at international level, but that shirt was already taken at United by fellow new arrival Ona Batlle. Number seven is occupied by Ella Toone, while, 27 and 37 are also taken, prompting Heath to double up and go for 77 as an alternative.
Press is United’s number 24. Like Heath, she too is known for a different number, having long worn 23 for the USWNT. That was already worn in Manchester by rising England star Alessia Russo, with Press opting for 24 as a touching tribute to late basketball legend Kobe Bryant.
“I’m not someone that holds too much luck or significance to a number. But when I wasn’t able to wear my normal number, I chose this with a little nod to Kobe, because I’m an LA girl,” she said.
Following the conclusion of the September international break, both players made their eagerly anticipated United debut this weekend, each coming off the bench for the closing stages of a routine 3-0 win over Brighton. Heath even laid on the third goal for striker Jane Ross.
There are now more eyes on the WSL from the United States than ever before, with Alex Morgan, Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle the other USWNT stars making the switch to England this year. There is also a deal in place for NBC to broadcast live WSL games stateside.
United will face Morgan’s Tottenham in their next WSL fixture next weekend, a game that will now have huge international draw in the women’s football community because of the players involved.