‘It was just overwhelming for me’: returning Raso on Westfield Matildas return
Six months ago, Westfield Matildas star Hayley Raso was wondering whether she’d ever walk again.
No wonder the 24-year-old attacker was jumping for joy after scoring on her return in Australia’s 2-0 Cup of Nations triumph over New Zealand on Thursday.
It crowns a remarkable tale of strength for the Queenslander, who broke her back playing in a National Women’s Soccer League match in August last year.
She had not appeared for the Westfield Matildas since the 2018 Tournament of Nations, but it took her just under three minutes to find the net at Leichhardt Oval.
“I’m just so excited to be out here playing again and to get a goal topped it all off tonight,” Raso told FOX Sports after the match.
“It was just overwhelming for me. I just wanted to come out and keep getting minutes under my belt, so to score was just so exciting and it’s great to be back.
“That builds my confidence and to return to tonight and get it is exciting for me. But just wanting to play minutes to get out with the team and perform well [is my goal for the Cup of Nations].
Both the return of Raso and the maiden fixture at the helm for new Westfield Matildas boss Ante Milicic made it a special occasion in Sydney’s inner-west.
A typically level-headed piece of advice from Milicic may have been just what the Brisbane Roar forward needed to take centre stage after her long-awaited return to the national stage.
“He just told me to have fun, enjoy myself and then to stick to the game plan.
“He’s come in and done a great job for us. We’re all really excited to have him on board and it’s just great to see where we can go from here.”