Wendie Renard proves she’s much more than just a centre-back

Even if time is spent at OL Reign, a return to France down the line should not be ruled out for Wendie Renard, writes Martin Whiteley.

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Standing over six feet tall, the imposing Wendie Renard has all the natural attributes associated with playing the position of centre-back. The intangibles the defender brings to the teams she plays for though, literally and figuratively, do see her stand head and shoulders above her rivals.

Renard was back on club duty this weekend as part of a team that defeated Soyaux 2-0 away from home. Now just one point behind PSG – who moved to 43 points after a 4-0 home win against Issy – Renard will be looking to make it 15 league titles in a row since her debut for Lyon in the 2006-2007 campaign.

Ahead of the 2013-14 season, the leadership qualities that Renard possessed were brought to the fore when she was appointed the captain of Lyon, despite only being 23 years of age. In September 2013, then France coach Philippe Bergeroo — newly appointed to the position himself — also entrusted Renard with the armband for the national team too.

Although still captain at club level, Renard did lose that honour for France. After her appointment in August 2017, coach Corinne Diacre opted for Amandine Henry, who would soon become a team-mate of Renard at Lyon.

Although primarily on the field to stop opponents from finding the back of the net, the defender has also managed to pop up at the other end of the field to score vital goals for Lyon. The ability to get on the end of set-pieces, and be clinical from the penalty spot, has seen Renard amass over 100 goals in her club career.

Despite the dramas that have occurred internationally over the years, Renard has also found the net nearly 30 times for France. In fact, in recent games against Switzerland, the defender was virtually single-handedly responsible for the victories.

In the 2-0 opening match on 20 February, Renard opened the scoring for France before netting both goals as they won by the same score line three days later.

Those goals carried on a great run for Renard who had managed to find the net at least once in her previous eight games for club and country.

A recently announced Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award nominee, Renard will be looking for a chance to add more silverware on the pitch too, as OL Groupe enter their first-leg tie with Brøndby this week, in the last 16 of the Champions League.

The ability of the OL Groupe to keep the champions’ number three under contract past June 2022, must surely be one of their top priorities going forward. Even if Renard does at some point spend time playing for NWSL sister club OL Reign, a return to France down the line would be firmly on the cards. Manage things right and they could find that not one, but two teams will get the opportunity to look down on the rest of their rivals.

Follow Martin on Twitter at @673martin

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