Wanderers DNA all over Matildas squad

The Women’s World Cup is fast approaching and the country is getting behind the Matildas as they prepare to host the tournament.

Current Western Sydney Wanderers captain and two time player of the season winner Clare Hunt is set to play a key role in the side, having secured a starting place in the team at the beginning of the year and impressing with her performances; but she is not the only player with a connection to the Wanderers in the squad.

Of the 23 players selected for the World Cup, 10 players have worn the Red & Black at some stage in their career.

Of those 10, three played a key role in the Wanderers’ most successful season to date in 2019-/20, where the club finished fourth and made the finals for the first time.

Courtney Nevin – a Blacktown local – joined the club in 2018 as a 16 year old and became a key part of the side in her three year tenure.

Her best season came in the clubs run to the finals in
2019/20, where she played in every minute of the campaign and was named winner of the Wanderers Medal by her teammates at just 18 years old.

The energetic and dynamic full back has gone on to play in Sweden, and most recently moved to English side Leicester City in January, where she helped the club avoid relegation.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 20: Courtney Nevin of the Wanderers is tackled by Angelique Hristodoulou of Sydney FC during the round six W-League match between the Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC at Bankwest Stadium on December 20, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Another key player in that successful season was Kyra Cooney-Cross, who scored four goals in 12 games for the club, with two of these coming in a massive 5-0 Sydney Derby victory, in one of the finest hours for our A-League Women’s side.

Many of the traits she is known for now were on display in Red and Black, with her technical ability, intelligence and versatility making her one of the top young players in Australia and a regular starter in the Matildas side.

Her ability to play in multiple positions was exemplified in the Matildas recent win over France; Cooney-Cross started the match in the middle of the park before being shifted to the right wing,
where she then played a key role in creating the winning goal of the match.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 26: Kyra Cooney-Cross of Western Sydney and Camila Martins Pereira of Canberra compete for the ball during the round 7 W-League match between Canberra United and the Western Sydney Wanderers at McKellar Park on December 26, 2019 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Matt Blyth/Getty Images)

Cortnee Vine also featured prominently in the Wanderers’ run to the finals that year, scoring two goals in 12 games.

But the history of current Matildas stars in Wanderers colours goes back many years. Emily van Egmond, Mackenzie Arnold and Kyah Simon were all at the club in the 2013/14 season, with van Egmond scoring two goals in 12 games and an up and coming Arnold playing three times in goal.

Experienced Matildas centre back Alanna Kennedy also spent a year at the club early in her career, playing nine times and scoring once, whilst Matildas goalkeeper Teagan Micah made five appearances in the 2015/16 season.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 11: Jessica Waterhouse of Adelaide competes for the ball with Alanna Kennedy of the Wanderers during the round 8 W-League match between Adelaide United and the Western Sydney Wanderers at Burton Park on January 11, 2014 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Morne de Klerk/Getty Images)

The most notable former Wanderer currently in the Matildas side is star full back Ellie Carpenter.

She joined the side at 15 years old, and became an instant starter in the side, only missing one game in her two seasons at the club.

Despite the club failing to reach the finals, her performances caught the eye of the national team setup, and she was selected for a Matildas training camp, and eventually made her Matildas debut whilst still at the club.

After a stint at Canberra United and Portland Thorns, Carpenter was one of many Matildas players to make the move to Europe in 2020, signing for powerhouse club Olympique Lyon.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 03: Ellie Carpenter of the Wanderers and Alexandra Chidiac of City FC compete for the ball during the round 12 W-League match between Melbourne City FC and the Western Sydney Wanderers at C.B.Smith Reserve on January 3, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

She has since become one of the best wing backs in the world and has won countless trophies at the French side, including the Women’s Champions League in 2021.

It’s clear much of the Matildas squad in some way was developed or nurtured by the Wanderers at some point in their career, and no matter which side takes the field at the World Cup, there is Wanderers DNA all over the Matildas squad.