Comeback Matildas revel in Cup call-ups

Katrina Gorry and Chloe Logarzo were both on the brink of missing Matildas selection for the World Cup in France.

australian assistant coach ante milicic looks on during the australian socceroos training session at the gloria football club in antalya turkey
Australian assistant coach ANTE MILICIC looks on during the Australian Socceroos Training Session at the Gloria Football Club in Antalya, Turkey. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

When Ante Milicic named his Matildas squad for the World Cup, Chloe Logarzo and Katrina Gorry were two of the luckiest to be included.

Not because of their class.

Logarzo was a star performer in the W-League this season, and Gorry has an Asian Football Confederation player of the year medal in her pool room.

It's because badly timed injuries put the pair on a rehabilitation timeline that clashed dangerously with the June tournament.

"I really did fear for France," Logarzo said.

The 24-year-old went down with an ankle injury in the W-League grand final, only to be told a month later she'd also broken her leg.

"An MRI scan didn't show it. I was two days away from running. And they told me 'you've fractured your leg. You need to be in a boot and turn down your training load'," she said.

"I was like, what? I'd been jumping, I'd been doing lifts."

Thankfully for Logarzo, her reputation as a peerless trainer caught Milicic's attention.

He called her into camp for a friendly with the USA in April, knowing she wouldn't be able to play.

"It was nice of Ante to bring me into the Colorado camp, sit me down and ask me how I'm going," she said.

"So now things are great. But if you asked me this a couple of months ago, I was really sketchy about it."

Gorry, 26, had a more complicated return.

The beloved midfielder, known as 'Mini', suffered a major syndesmosis injury on Christmas Eve and spent her holidays in a moon boot after surgery.

She didn't even have a training match under her belt answering Milicic's call to face the Americans.

She, like Logarzo, was called up ahead of time to show their wares.

The pair have more than their injuries in common.

They've both come close to giving the game away, before deciding to re-commit to the sport.

"For the last 12 to 18 months, I've been a bit out of it," Gorry said.

"Emotionally. And physically exhausted from back-to-back seasons.

"I kind of resented football because I couldn't be near my family."

Gorry says the last time she can remember playing well was two years ago, in the 2017 Tournament of Nations when Australia scored a breakthrough win over the USA.

"That was the last time I felt like myself. It's been a while," she said.

"But in that time, I think I grew a lot as a person, which has helped me in football.

"So now, being able to play and train with a smile on my face ... for a long time it wasn't like that.

"It's been really good to be back in this environment."

Logarzo's rethink came earlier in her career.

She was overlooked for the 2014 Asian Cup squad by Alen Stajcic and cut her ties with the sport, now calling it "one of the best things that's ever happened to me".

"I wasn't really mentally into soccer. I thought I was. I thought I was really prepared," she said.

"But looking back on it now I was 19, 20 (years old and) I wasn't really ready.

"And Staj - he was my school coach, my club coach, the NSW Institute of Sport coach - told me 'you're getting a big head, you're letting other factors come into your game'.

"He cut me from that team and I really resented football for a long time.

"I walked away from the game, I got a normal job. I worked as a landscaper, six days a week from five to five."

Stajcic hadn't forgotten about Logarzo, however, calling her up again in 2015.

"He invited me to training before the World Cup because I was working in Canberra," she said.

"I'd be in my high-vis gear with my work boots. I'd borrow Lisa (De Vanna's) boots so I could play.

"And then I'd go back to work."

Still not serious about the sport, Logarzo swapped the Canberra winter for a European summer backpacking.

"I went to five different countries, like every normal kid does," she said.

"By the time the girls were playing the World Cup, I was sitting in a pub in Croatia watching them.

"I realised I let a massive opportunity slip by and I couldn't ever do that again. I thought to myself, 'how selfish could I be?'

"I could be doing something that I loved, and something unique ... in that moment I realised this is what I wanted to do."

In a neat quirk of fate, Logarzo was with another injury-struck talent when she received her call up.

That was Washington Spirit teammate Amy Harrison, 23, herself earning a first World Cup call up despite two knee reconstructions already in her career.

"We were at training and our coach told us. I ran over to Amy because we have known each other since we were 15, she said.

"It was a really amazing experience given I was overseas and away from my family, to be around someone that's been there since day one.

"Things got a bit teary."


AAP