After a swerving screamer rocketed into the back of the net to put New Zealand 1-0 up against the Matildas last April, some may have pondered – ‘is that Roberto Carlos?’
But emerging in the goal celebrations was none other than Sydney FC left back Anna Green.
A strike Brazilian football icon Roberto Carlos would certainly be proud of, Green confessed her goal would be an unbeatable career highlight – if not for two Matildas goals in stoppage time to break New Zealand hearts.
“I love getting on the scoresheet,” said Green. “That was really exciting for me.
“I was stoked for the goal but the fact that we didn’t win that game is still such a blow.
“Whenever I think back to that goal, I’m just like ‘man!’
“But any time we play the Matildas they are my favourite games, I love that trans-Tasman rivalry.
“Their team is always up for it, we are always up for it and normally it’s either in New Zealand or Australia and a nice chance to come home in Australia, because it’s my home away from home.”
The 32-year-old fullback, who was born in Stockport, England but grew up in Palmerston North, New Zealand, recently retired from international football after playing for the Football Ferns 82 times.
Green’s dynamism and determined attitude saw her represent New Zealand at four Olympic Games and three FIFA Women’s World Cups after making her national team debut in a 3-0 loss to China at just 16 years of age in 2006.
“I think the World Cup is definitely the pinnacle sporting event for female footballers so that’s always really special getting to go there and represent New Zealand; always a real privilege,” Green said.
“Unfortunately our results haven’t gone as well as we would have liked or as well as we planned for.
“But I’m really looking forward to supporting the girls in the home World Cup, both the Ferns and the Matildas.
“What I’m really excited about, and I guess it’s a bit of a challenge to the federations, is the legacy that the World Cup leaves.
“This is such an amazing opportunity for women’s football both in Australia and New Zealand … does it inspire the new generation of players and can we make sure that the World Cup has the lasting impact that it should?”
Understanding what the international game can do for a nation, Green’s career has matured since beginning her professional career with Adelaide United in 2011 – going on to play for Lokomotive Leipzig in Germany (2012-13) and Mallbackens in Sweden (2016).
The defender also spent time in the Women’s Super League (WSL) in England at Notts County (2014-15) and Reading (2017-18) – benefitting from the growth of the women’s game in the UK.
“It was a real eye opener,” Green explained. “I think at that time it was a real turning point when lots of the women’s facilities were starting to get mixed in with the men.
“The funding that was coming into those programs was growing exponentially and so it was a really, really exciting time to be involved in women’s sport.
“I think in terms of professionalism they’re second to none with the English league at the minute.
“The rate of growth is something that I’d really like to see accelerated in Australia.
“I know that it’s going in the right direction but I’m talking about the access to facilities, the fulltime nature of the clubs and the length of the league.
“The talent in Australia is phenomenal.”
Familiar with the changing landscape of the women’s game in Australia, Green first represented Sydney FC back in 2013/14 when the Liberty A-League only consisted of 12 league matches per team in the regular season.
Albeit a campaign cut short by injury, a young Green furthered her development during her first stint with the Sky Blues, mixing it with international stars like Sam Kerr, Ellyse Perry and Jodie Taylor.
And after taking a sabbatical from her consultancy role at Deloitte, one of the “Big Four” accounting firms in the world, Green re-signed with Sydney FC from Capital Football in New Zealand ahead of the 2022/23 season.
“I loved it here, I loved the competitive nature of Sydney and it’s really cool that nothing has changed,” said Green.
“You walk into this environment and you know it’s an environment that’s full of winners and people for who winning is really important.
“The competitive nature of the team is still there and that high expectation, the high standards.”
And setting those standards has been free-scoring teammate and roommate Madison Haley – who also joined the Sky Blues before the start of the season.
“It’s been really awesome living with Maddy!” Green explained. “I think we’re at different ends of our careers. Maddy’s just starting out her professional career … I think I’m at the tail end of my footballing career so it’s been really awesome to see her excitement and enthusiasm that she’s bringing into this season … there’s no complaints from my end!”
Enjoying being back amongst the competitive nature of Sydney FC, Green will also take delight in Manchester United’s recent resurgence in the English Premier League, supporting the club “since day dot”.
“I am a Manchester United fan through and through!” said a cheerful Green. “And my dad’s a United fan too so whenever we get back to the UK we’re always trying to get to some games at Old Trafford.
“That’s the team that I followed since day dot and it’s really awesome to see the women’s programme coming up as well, so I’m a fan of their team too.
“When I was there most recently, fellow Kiwi Chris Wood managed to get us tickets to go and watch Burnley play at Old Trafford, when he played for them.
“Unfortunately it was the game where Burnley beat United so that was not my favourite day at Old Trafford but it was cool to go and watch with Chris’ family and share that experience with them.”
An advocate, supporter and international star of the game, Green’s footballing knowledge and experience will certainly be attributes that Sydney FC can call upon as they continue the chase for a third consecutive Premiership crown.