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Brighton sign New Zealand international Rebekah Stott

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New Zealand defender Rebekah Stott has signed for Women's Super League side Brighton & Hove Albion, the club has announced.

Stott joins Brighton from W-League side Melbourne City and has previously spent time with SC Sand, OL Reign, Sky Blue FC, Avaldsnes IL and Melbourne Victory.

"I'm so excited," Stott told ESPN. "I can't wait to get there, meet the team and get back into football.

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"I've had a little bit of a break which was good for me physically and mentally. Now I'm trying to get fit and work on a few things to improve my game.

"I was looking to get into the English league because I think it's one of the best leagues in the world at the moment. I was in Brighton last year with our national team and thought it was an amazing place, so I'm stoked to be going there."

Stott is the latest in a long list of Australia and New Zealand internationals to make the move to Europe with New Zealand Football in particular known for encouraging players to get experience abroad.

She said the attraction of being able to play a full season and then have an off season attracted her to the WSL.

"England is pushing and putting a lot more money into it, and the quality of players that are in that league now is crazy," she added.

"The fact that it's a full-year contract and season means there's more security. I think a lot of girls growing up, that's their dream: to go and play professionally year-round. This gives us the opportunity to do it.

"Playing games week-in, week-out amongst the best players in the world, that's going to help us individually improve, and then obviously that helps our [national] team as a collective.

"I definitely want to still be playing when 2023 comes around and be in the best possible form I can be in, so whatever I can do to be in the best shape [for the Women's World Cup], I'll try to be at a club that helps that. I'm not sure what the future holds but I definitely want to be at the top."

Stott's departure from the W-League follows in the footsteps of a host of Australia internationals including the likes of Steph Catley, Ellie Carpenter and Kyah Simon, who have joined Arsenal, Lyon and PSV Eindhoven, respectively. Stott says that keeping the calendar aligned with leagues overseas will ensure the return of top players to Australia's top flight, but acknowledges that it's not an easy decision.

"They're probably going to have to figure something out if they want to keep the W-League going," she said. "It's hard. It's really hard.

"If they can keep a connection with the NWSL to get those kinds of international players, that would be good: you can play in America and then come back and do W-League, which is a great option.

"[But] Europe is the best place to be at the moment, which doesn't allow players to play in the W-League unless something changes and it becomes fully-pro here.

"They should open [the league] up for New Zealanders to not be international [visa] players. That would help out New Zealand as well as bring more players into the W-League."