The junior football clubs of two of the Matildas biggest stars have spilled the beans on their former players before they became household names.
Mary Fowler and Cortnee Vine have captured the love of the nation since their respective performances at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, but they’ve both been playing the game almost their entire lives.
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At just 20 years of age, Fowler – and those gloves – are lighting up the tournament.
She burst onto the World Cup scene, scoring her first ever international goal during the Matildas’ 4-0 steamroll of Canada, before starring in Australia’s 2-0 Round of 16 victory over Denmark.
The forward saw a lot of the ball during the Matildas quarter-final epic against France on Saturday, but remarkably didn’t score.
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However, the missed chances didn’t bother her in the dramatic penalty shootout, as she drilled a calm and composed spot kick.
Speaking to Sunrise on Wednesday, the former coach of 20-year-old Fowler, Jamie McAlister, provided some insight into the forward’s earlier days.
Mary Fowler and Cortnee Vine were both football stars as young kids. Credit: Sunrise
“Grassroots, Mary has always been very committed, she has been a respectful player-always did what you asked her to do,” he said.
“She was always an attacking player, but if you asked her to play as a full-back, never a problem.
“She’d basically do whatever you asked, and it’s not just what she did at training, she would go home and practice with her family, so I think that’s one of the keys to her development.
“She’s always been a talent. She’s had a lot of good people help her over the years, her family, probably primarily, but one of the things that we really pushed here is the development of the weak foot.
“If you watch her play, she is just so two–footed, that lead-up game against France, that goal she scored with her left foot, didn’t even think about it, just a lovely first touch with her left foot, left foot shot.
“Then you compare that to the other night, that shop with her right foot, again, first time, it didn’t go in, but it was still a good crack. “
Fowler and Vine have suddenly become household names. Credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Scoring the winning penalty that sent the Matildas through to the semi-finals, Cortnee Vine has rapidly become a hero of the World Cup.
The Sydney FC winger hadn’t won a cap until 18 months ago, but has featured in all but one international since.
Committee member of Cortnee Vine’s former club, Junior Peninsula Power, Michelle Feuerriegel says they always knew she “had the eye of the tiger.”
“Cortnee came into Peninsula Power in 2010, she came and joined a mixed team, it was mixed with boys and girls,” she said.
“Cortnee was able to hold her own in a mixed team, which is amazing for any young female player to be coming through at grassroots to be able to hold their own in a mixed team with boys at that age.
“She went through from 2010 to 2015 until she was signed with Brisbane Roar, so during her time at Peninsula Power she always had a smile on her face.
“Speaking to her previous coaches, they both said she had the ‘eye of the tiger’ even back then at such a young age… Always smiling. That was something that still stays with us all today.”
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Mel McLaughlin and Bruce McAvaney are leading Seven’s coverage of the tournament alongside an all-star team of football experts, including Elise Kellond-Knight, Heather Garriock and more.