Feature

Matildas invade Europe - Guide to Aussies abroad

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The demand for Australian players has never been greater, with clubs around the world looking Down Under to bolster their squads as the women's game explodes.

Particularly enormous growth in the women's game in Europe has provided a huge shake-up of the world's top leagues, with traditional destinations such as the United States now facing fierce competition for top talent.

England's FA Women's Super League has become a highly desirable destination for Australian players, with eight now calling the competition home, including Matildas stars Sam Kerr, Steph Catley, Lydia Williams and Caitlin Foord.

Heavyweight clubs on the continent haven't missed out on the move for Australian stars either, including UEFA Women's Champions League superteam Olympique Lyonnais who recently signed Ellie Carpenter.

England

Steph Catley – Arsenal

Four-time W-League winner and Matildas vice-captain Catley will be determined to make her mark in Europe after inking a move to Arsenal in July.

Catley has forged a reputation as one of the best full-backs in women's football over five seasons with Melbourne City in the W-League, which included captaining the side to multiple titles.

Catley also captained Melbourne Victory to a W-League title in 2014 as a 22-year-old and has also played for Portland, Seattle and Orlando in the NWSL.

She has become a stalwart for the Matildas, earning 82 caps after making her debut for the national side in 2012.

At Arsenal, Catley will reunite with coach Joe Montemurro for the third time in her career after being under his tutelage at both City and Victory.

You can watch Catley in action when the FA Women's Super League returns (broadcast on Optus Sport in Australia) next season or follow @stephcatley on Instagram and Twitter.

Caitlin Foord – Arsenal

Matildas attacking dynamo Foord's ascension to global superstardom continued after the former Sydney FC player made the move to English giants Arsenal in January.

At only 25 years old, Foord is already a veteran of the Matildas after being selected in Australia's squad for the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup at the age of 16 - the youngest of any Aussie to play at a World Cup.

Foord's brilliant play for Sydney in the W-League and for Portland Thorns in the NWSL over the past two seasons helped gain the attention of the Gunners ahead of her January move.

If Foord's early displays for the North London side are anything to go by, then she could very well become a regular in Arsenal's star-studded line-up. 

You can watch Foord in action when the FA Women's Super League returns (broadcast on Optus Sport in Australia) next season or follow @caitlinfoord on Instagram and Twitter.

Lydia Williams – Arsenal

Veteran Matildas shot-stopper Williams is set to add another chapter to her already brilliant career after signing with Arsenal in July.

Williams, 32, has been a fixture as Australia's first-choice goalkeeper, making 88 appearances for the national team since making her debut in 2005. 

She has also developed a strong reputation in world football after stints in the NWSL with Seattle Reign, Houston Dash, Western New York Flash and Chicago Red Stars.

A proud Indigenous woman, Williams has been a vocal advocate for Aboriginal athletes, helping put the spotlight on what Indigenous footballers, especially women, can bring to the game. 

Williams reunites with her former Melbourne City coach Montemurro at Arsenal but will have a major battle on her hands if she is to unseat Gunners custodian Manuela Zinsberger for the number one jersey.

You can watch Williams in action when the FA Women's Super League returns (broadcast on Optus Sport in Australia) next season or follow @lydsaussie13 on Instagram or @lydsaussie on Twitter.

Chloe Logarzo – Bristol City

The move to England's top division could be the catalyst for Matildas winger Logarzo to lift her game to the next level.

The 25-year-old former Sydney FC player joined Bristol City in January, following in the footsteps of a number of her Matildas teammates, and will be coached by fellow Australian Tanya Oxtoby.

Logarzo has been capped 42 times for Australia after making her national team debut in 2013. She featured for the Matildas at the 2019 Women's World Cup, scoring in Australia's win against Brazil.

It will be Logarzo's third European club after stints with Norwegian Toppserien side Avaldsnes and Swedish Damallsvenskan side Eskilstuna United.

The pacy midfielder has also played in America with NWSL teams Washington Spirit and Colorado Pride.

You can watch Logarzo in action when the FA Women's Super League returns (broadcast on Optus Sport in Australia) next season or follow @Chloelogarzo on Instagram or @Clogarzo on Twitter.

Ella Mastrantonio - Bristol City

Joining Logarzo in Bristol is last season's Western Sydney Wanderers star, Mastrantonio.

The 28-year-old links up with former teammate Oxtoby, who is Bristol's manager.

Capped six times for Australia, Mastrantonio has spent a full decade playing in the W-League.

"I'm so excited to be able to work with Tanya again after spending my formative years as a footballer together in Western Australia," she said. "Women's football is skyrocketing in Europe.

"I can't thank Tanya and Bristol City enough for giving me this opportunity.

Sam Kerr – Chelsea

One of the biggest names in world football, Matildas captain Kerr's profile is only going to get bigger after joining English giants Chelsea in 2019.

It didn't take long for Kerr to find form, playing a key role in the Blues' charge towards winning the 2020 FA WSL title.

The challenge for Kerr next season is to replicate the same success she achieved in the United States, where she swept the NWSL's individual honours over an incredible three-year stretch.

 

Kerr was given the Matildas captaincy ahead of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France - with the prolific striker taking to the role with aplomb.

While her exploits for the national team already have her as one of our best ever, the 27-year-old will be determined to push her claim as the best in the world.

You can watch Kerr in action when the FA Women's Super League returns (broadcast on Optus Sport in Australia) next season or follow @samanthakerr20 on Instagram or @samkerr1 on Twitter.

Hayley Raso – Everton

A move to historic English football club Everton has capped off Raso's incredible fightback from a potentially career-ending injury.

Speedster Raso broke three vertebrae in her back while playing for NWSL side Portland during the 2018 season.

Refusing to give in, the 25-year-old Brisbane product threw herself at the rehabilitation program, desperate to make Australia's World Cup team but also to keep her career alive.

Spectacularly, Raso was back on the field less than 12 months later as the Matildas took to the field in France. It was a testament to her incredible fighting spirit and love for the game. 

Raso - recognisable on the field by her trademark hair ribbons - played three seasons with the Thorns and became a fan favourite. She also won W-League titles for her home town club Brisbane Roar in 2012 and 2017.

The move to England and Everton will be her chance to prove to the world how she can take her game to the top tier of women's football.

You can watch Raso in action when the FA Women's Super League returns (broadcast on Optus Sport in Australia) next season or follow @hayleyraso on Instagram and Twitter.

Mackenzie Arnold – West Ham

Shot-stopper Arnold will hope the challenge of facing the world's best goalscorers in England's FA WSL is the perfect recipe to help her claim the Matildas' number one jersey ahead of the 2023 Women's World Cup.

Arnold, 26, made the move to West Ham from NWSL side Chicago Red Stars in July and has also previously played in Norway's top flight.

A regular member of the Matildas squad since 2015 as back-up to first-choice keeper Williams, Arnold has been to two Women's World Cups and was a member of the Australian team at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

You can watch Arnold in action when the FA Women's Super League returns (broadcast on Optus Sport in Australia) next season or follow @Mackenziearnold on Instagram.

Jacynta Galabadaarachchi – West Ham

Rising star Galabadaarachchi has a name that's hard not to notice, but it's the 19-year-old's silky skills on the pitch that you won't forget.

The Perth product was already in the sights of Manchester City and Manchester United before she turned ten and had a move to Everton denied in 2017 because she was only 15 years old.

Galabadaarachchi was snapped up by West Ham in July 2019 and has quickly become a dangerous attacking weapon for the hammers despite being the youngest in the squad. 

Although yet to earn her first Matildas cap, Galabadaarachchi has been named in several national team training camps and is seen as a star of the future.

You can watch Galabadaarachchi in action when the FA Women's Super League returns (broadcast on Optus Sport in Australia) next season or follow @Jacynta_gala on Instagram

France

Emma Checker - FC Fleury 91

Another 2019-20 W-League winner with Melbourne City, Checker heads to France after stints in Australia with City, Adelaide United, Canberra United and Melbourne Victory.

The 24-year-old made history by becoming the youngest captain of a W-League team during her time at Adelaide, where she debuted as a 15-year-old in 2011.

It's the second move overseas for the five-cap Matilda after a short stint in South Korea with Incheon's Red Angels in 2017.

Keep up to date with Checker's success in France by following her Instagram @emmachecker.

Laura Brock (nee Alleway) - Guingamp

Brock is the second Aussie to move to the popular French Division 1 Feminine in 2020.

It is the third venture overseas for the centre-back, after stints at English WSL side Notts County and Orlando Pride in the US.

The 60-cap Matilda has made 115 W-League appearances across 11 seasons, debuting in 2009 with Victory.

Keep up to date with Brock's success in France by following her Instagram @laura_alleway.

Mary Fowler – Montpellier

17-year-old sensation Fowler was the youngest member of the Matildas' 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup squad and is earmarked as a star of the future.

The prodigy joined Montpellier back in February from Adelaide United, where she scored three times in seven games.

Keep up to date with Fowler's success in France by following her Instagram @maryfowlerrr.

Ellie Carpenter – Olympique Lyonnais

Still only 20 years old, flying full-back Carpenter has already played over 40 times for Australia.

Her move is perhaps the highest-profile of the lot, with Lyon representing the pinnacle of European football.

The French club have won the last four UEFA Women’s Champions Leagues in a row – and have the most in total with six.

Carpenter Joins Lyon from NWSL side Portland Thorns and has also played more than 50 matches in the W-League across four seasons.

You can watch Carpenter in action when the UEFA Women's Champions League returns next season or follow @elliecarpenter on Instagram.

The Netherlands 

Amy Harrison – PSV Eindhoven

24-year-old Harrison has played on both sides of the Sydney derby and now makes her first foray into European football with Dutch giants PSV.

Harrison will team up with Matildas teammate Kyah Simon in Eindhoven, who joined the club from Melbourne City.

The talented midfielder, who has 13 caps for Australia, has played overseas once before, in the US with Washington Spirit.

Keep up to date with how Harrison is doing in the Netherlands by following her on Instagram via @amyharrrison.

Kyah Simon – PSV Eindhoven

The 92-cap Matildas veteran needs no introduction.

One of the most high-profile Aussie stars, Simon has previously played in the United States with Boston Breakers and Houston Dash but heads to Europe for the first time after signing with Dutch giants PSV.

This move is the cherry on top of an excellent year for the attacker, who recently won the W-League with City after a long injury lay-off

Keep up to date with how Simon is doing in the Netherlands by following her on Instagram via @Kyahsimon.

Norway

Katrina Gorry – Avaldsnes

Gorry, the 2014 AFC Women's Player of the Year, put a dark injury cloud behind her last year, breaking back into the Matildas squad.

The 27-year-old's hard work has been rewarded with a move to Avaldsnes alongside teammate from the Matildas and Brisbane Roar; Clare Polkinghorne.

The diminutive, metronomic midfielder will look to regain her starting spot for the Matildas and add to her 78 caps.

Follow her first European venture (after overseas stints in Canada, the US and Japan) on Insta via @katrinagorry10.

Clare Polkinghorne - Avaldsnes

125-cap veteran Matildas defender Polkinghorne makes her first foray into European football with Avaldsnes, recently the club of Matildas teammate Aivi Luik.

The 31-year-old is a Brisbane Roar legend, with 128 games for the club across a decade, and has also played in the US with Portland Thorns and Houston Dash.

Keep up to date with her career in Norway on Instagram via @polks89.

Tameka Yallop (nee Butt) – Klepp

Yallop is another Roar veteran, who has previously had stints overseas in the US, Germany, Sweden and Japan, as well as three seasons previously in Norway.

A starter at last year's Women's World Cup, the 29-year-old box-to-box midfielder has 82 caps for the Matildas and will look to stay at her peak leading into the 2023 World Cup on home soil with midfield a highly competitive area.

Follow her progress with Klepp on Instagram via @tamekayallop.

Karly Roestbakken – LSK Kvinner

At just 18 years old, Roestbakken was a last-minute call-up to the Matildas squad at last year's World Cup as an injury replacement, but, far from just making up the numbers, she saw plenty of game time - featuring in three matches, as a starter for one of them.

Her move is particularly interesting because LSK is the strongest team in Norway - having won a whopping five of the last six Toppserien titles, and making the Champions League quarter-finals two seasons ago.

Roestbakken will be raring to add to her six Matildas caps and surely has her sights set on a starting spot come the 2023 World Cup.

Follow her progress at the Norwegian giants on Instagram via @karlyroestbakken.

Teagan Micah - Arna-Bjornar

This is goalkeeper Micah's first stint at an overseas professional club, joining a huge Aussie exodus to Scandinavia.

The 22-year-old was a member of the Matildas' 2019 Women's World Cup squad but has a hard task displacing one of the world's best in Williams.

Follow her time in Norway on Twitter via @TeaganMicah.

Spain 

Alex Chidiac – Atletico Madrid

Last season Chidiac was the only Aussie playing in the Spanish women's top flight and perhaps she inspired fellow teammates Jenna McCormick and Luik to come over too.

Chidiac made her Matildas debut in 2015 as a 16-year-old, but missed out on last year's World Cup squad.

She'll be looking to break back in as the 2023 World Cup on home soil rolls around, with strong performances in one of Spain's strongest sides.

Follow Chidiac's progress at Atleti on Instagram via @alexchidiac10.

Jenna McCormick - Real Betis

At 25 years old,  McCormick has already had a storied career.

A veteran of the W-League with Victory, Adelaide, Canberra and Brisbane, she has also been to Europe before with Stjarnan (Iceland) and Medkila (Norway).

She earned her first Matildas cap last year and appeared four times under Ante Milicic.

The versatile athlete is also a two-time AFLW winner with the Adelaide Crows.

McCormick prioritised her football aspirations ahead of the 2019 Women's World Cup and this latest move is the next step in her development as a world-class defender.

You can keep up to date with her time in the Spanish Women's top division via @jennamccormick__ on Instagram.

Aivi Luik - Sevilla 

Veteran midfielder Luik is no stranger to playing in Europe, having had stints in Denmark, Iceland, England, Norway and Spain.

"Coming to Sevilla means the honour of playing for a club with a lot of history and it means playing with a team with the potential for a lot of success," the 25-cap Matilda said.

The 35-year-old makes the move to Spain from Norwegian club Avaldsnes, while she also played for Melbourne City in the 2019-20 W-League season.

You can follow Luik via @aiviluik on Instagram.

Sweden

Elise Kellond-Knight – Obos Damallsvenskan

Matildas midfield star Elise Kellond-Knight was unlucky enough to suffer an ACL rupture just minutes into her debut for Kristianstads.

The 29-year-old has undergone successful knee reconstruction surgery and will undergo rehabilitation in due course.

Follow her recovery via @elise_KK8 on Instagram.

Emily Gielnik – Vittsjo

Gielnik turned heads signing for German giants Bayern after last year’s Women's World Cup but admitted “extreme adversity” during her time at the club inspired her to make the move to smaller Swedish outfit Vittsjo.

The 28-year-old Matildas forward has also played in Europe for Liverpool (England) and Avaldnes (Norway).

Follow her fortunes in the Swedish women's top tier via @emilygielnik on Instagram.

Source SBS The World Game