Oak Mountain alum Nicole Payne signs with top European team PSG

Published 2:07 pm Monday, July 24, 2023

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

Former Oak Mountain multi-sport star Nicole Payne’s dream of playing soccer in Europe came true when she signed a contract to play for Paris Saint-Germain in France.

Her signing was announced by the club on Thursday, July 20. Payne signed a contract through 2026 with PSG.

PSG are one of the biggest soccer clubs in the world. Their women’s team finished second in France’s Women’s Division 1 behind Lyon, and faced Chelsea and Real Madrid on their way to the quarterfinals in the UEFA Women’s Champions League. PSG’s men’s team won the French Ligue 1 championship last year with international superstars Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe on their roster.

“It’s something I’ve always dreamed of,” Payne told PSG TV of signing with the club. “I became a professional player when I was a teenager, and I’ve grown up playing football (soccer) since I was four, so to experience a moment like this is very special. I’m really grateful to be here.”

Payne, a Birmingham native, played for Oak Mountain in high school, where she earned All-County First Team honors as a forward in 2019 and a midfielder in 2017. During her senior year in 2019, Payne scored 24 goals and was second in the county with 26 assists. In her previous All-County season in 2017, Payne scored 21 goals and added 23 assists as Oak Mountain reached the Final Four.

Payne was also a track and cross-country star at Oak Mountain as she won five state championships in her senior season in 2019. Payne won the 60-meter and 400-meter dash titles during the indoor season, and was a three-time state champion in the 400-meter indoor event after winning in 2016 and 2017 as well.

She also took the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter dash championships in the 2019 outdoor season while setting a state record in the 400-meter competition.

Payne was named the Alabama Gatorade Player of the Year for outdoor track and field in 2019 after becoming the top runner in the 100 and 200-meter events in the state of Alabama and one of the top runners in the nation during the season.

Payne played college soccer at West Virginia for three seasons before finishing at USC for her senior season. She appeared in all 16 matches for the Trojans last season and scored three goals while mainly featuring as a defender.

She briefly played for the United States Under-19 National Team before switching international sides to Nigeria. She has made two appearances with their women’s national team since making her one-time switch.

Payne’s older sister Toni plays for Sevilla in Spain’s La Liga Feminine after starring at Oak Mountain as well. They both started against the USWNT in 2022 as the first sisters to feature for the Nigeria women’s national team. Toni made her Women’s World Cup debut on Friday, July 21 against Canada in her 15th start for Nigeria.