Hannah Keryakoplis – Wales star still banging in the goals at a high level

Derby County star Hannah Keryakoplis. Picture: Derby County Women FC

It is 10 years since North Wales ace Hannah Keryakoplis signed for Women’s Super League club in-waiting Liverpool, but she still remains one of the most reliable goal-getters in the English football pyramid.

Now 26, Hannah is a star performer for Derby County in the tier 3 FA Women’s National League Northern Premier Division.

The Ewe Rams are currently fifth in the table at this early stage of 2020-21, having been in second spot when last season became null and void due to coronavirus.

Last season was Hannah’s first for the Derbyshire team which plays at the Dom Amott Leisure Group Arena in Mickleover and what an impact she made, netting 19 times in 15 starts, plus three appearances as a sub.

She is already back in the goals this term, having scored in wins over Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion, plus a 3-3 draw against Loughborough Foxes.

Hannah is always happy to work with Derby County’s social media team

So where did it all start for this all-action player, who never stops running from minute one to 90?

Born on February 1, 1994, Hannah began her career with Penyffordd Juniors boys’ team, growing up and playing football with current Wales international and Derby winger Tom Lawrence.

The pair, born just 19 days apart, are both from the village of Penyffordd in Flintshire and remain close friends to this day.

A former pupil at Castell Alun High School in Hope, near Wrexham, Hannah certainly has footballing pedigree.

Her great-grandfather, Tommy Gardner, won two caps for England in the 1930’s and played Liverpool, Aston Villa and Wrexham either side of the Second World War while grandfather Keith Gardner was also a professional at Liverpool in the 1950’s.

Also with Tranmere Rovers as a youth, Hannah signed for Liverpool at the age of 16 in 2010 – the year before the Women’s Super League started – and was soon making waves both club-wise and internationally.

She banged in the goals right, left and centre for Liverpool Reserves, netting 33 times in 30 appearances over three seasons, and had chances to shine in the first team, scoring on three occasions in 14 games in the 2012 WSL campaign, once against Chelsea and twice versus Notts County.

Alongside her flourishing club form, Hannah was absolutely ruthless in front of goal for Wales.

Having scored a bagful for the under-16’s, in 2010 she claimed back-to-back hat-tricks against Greece and the Faroe Islands in the Uefa Under-17 Championships.

She also slammed in four for the under-19’s in a 21-0 demolition of Georgia, Liverpool team-mate Emily Brown going one better with five.

A Wales senior debut was inevitable, and it came in October 2011, aged 17, a 4-1 defeat v France in Euro 2013 qualifying.

There was a major high for Hannah in 2012, when she was named the Football Association of Wales’ Women’s Young Player of the Year.

Held at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, the awards had a distinctly Liverpool FC flavour as Joe Allen won the Footballer of the Year crown.

In July 2013, Hannah signed for FA Women’s Premier League Northern Division newcomers Stoke City, where she pocketed four goals in 10 outings, before in January 2014 returning to FA WSL level when she was snapped up by Birmingham City.

Brum were very strong at this time and Hannah added another glorious notch to her CV when she appeared as a substitute in both legs of City’s Uefa Champions League semi-final against crack Swedish side Tyreso.

The midlands team held the Scandinavians 0-0 at home, but lost 3-0 away with current Manchester United star, American Christen Press, scoring twice.

Hannah in action for Stoke City. Image: James Knowles

In July 2015, Hannah returned to Stoke City for what was to be a much longer stay than her first one.

A huge favourite with the fans, she put away 58 goals in 84 appearances for the team over four seasons, including 26 in 24 starts in 2018-19.

She also scored seven as Stoke secured an 11th consecutive Staffordshire FA Ladies Challenge Cup with an 8-1 triumph over Sporting Khalsa at Stafford Town’s Stafford Park in April 2019.

Hannah has a huge heart for sure. Picture: Derby County Women FC

Last season Hannah decided it was time for a change, so joined Derby where she soon became a massive success.

It has been a while since Hannah’s last Wales appearance, but she can feel totally proud of the fact she has won 20 full caps, scoring three times.

An FA WSL player for Liverpool and Birmingham, a Uefa Champions League semi-finalist with the latter, prolific scorer for Wales at U16 to U19, as well as Stoke City and Derby County at club level, full international and still in her mid-20s – Hannah Keryakoplis has to rank as an all-time North Wales great.

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