Courtney Nevin is sitting in a stiflingly hot room in an industrial estate in north London’s suburbs. It’s an odd location for England’s Women’s Super League media launch, but the 21-year-old’s mind is elsewhere.
It’s mainly in Leicester, where she will soon be part of a team looking to build on last season’s improbable relegation escape.
But it’s also drawn back to August in Brisbane, where she watched the Matildas’ epic penalty shoot-out against France from the bench, and a week later made her Women’s World Cup debut.
Her thoughts are also drawn to Canada, where as a 13-year-old she first imagined that moment.
That was at the 2015 World Cup, when as part of a trip by the NSW girls team, Nevin saw Australia’s national side play the USA in Winnipeg and thought, ‘I want to be a Matilda, I want to represent Australia in a World Cup’.
“When I finally did that in the third-place play-off, it was a ‘pinch-me moment’,” she told AAP.
“Thinking about that little 13-year-old who was looking at the world stage from the stands and wanting to be a part of that – and then to be able to do it, it was insane, incredible.”
A month on, and half a world away, she admits the tournament in Australia already “feels like it was ages away”, but some memories remain fresh – notably the shoot-out, which no one will forget in a hurry.
“That was stressful. I didn’t want to watch but I just couldn’t keep my eyes off it.
“My heart was racing. I just felt so drained after it even though I didn’t do anything.
“It just kept going and going and going, and I was like, ‘This needs to be over, can we just win this game already?’.
“Then when Cortnee (Vine) got that last penalty, it was just incredible. I can’t even explain the feeling.
“I really can’t believe that we got to play a World Cup at home. We went into it wanting to inspire the next generation: I think we did.”
The girl from Blacktown, once of Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne Victory, is part of the Matildas’ future, lined up to eventually succeed Steph Catley at left-back.
Being in the heat of a WSL relegation battle, in which she shone to the extent her loan from Swedish club Hammarby was turned into a permanent deal by Leicester, accelerated her education.
“It was hard, but it was really good for me as a player,” she said.
“It made me grow as a player and mature. Going into every single game with the mentality, ‘This is a must-win do-or-die moment, you can’t slack off, keep going, keep fighting’.”
Leicester open their new season at Bristol City on Sunday, leaving Nevin to ponder: “We need to take that mentality into this season.”
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