Norwegian roots, but no divided loyalties for Roestbakken clan

Karly Roestbakken would have called you crazy had you told her three weeks ago that she would be starting matches for the Matildas at the FIFA Women's World Cup™ in France.

But it is the teenager who has been left with her head spinning after making her first start for Australia in Wednesday morning’s 4-1 Group C win over Jamaica.

Roestbakken – fast-tracked to France a fortnight ago to replace the injured Laura Alleway – only made her international debut last Friday, in the final moments of the Matildas epic comeback win over Brazil in Montpellier.

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And now the Canberra United defender, who has been catapulted into the national spotlight in a matter of days, could be on the verge of an appearance in the World Cup's last 16. 

It could be enough to turn a young player's head, but Roestbakken's father Jack has been there every step of the dizzying journey: from the moment the 18-year-old learned of her shock call-up to Ante Milicic’s side, to her stepping out at the Stade des Alpes to make her first start for the Green and Gold.


“He just said 'Be yourself, play your game. You know how to play, just be confident and on your toes',” Roestbakken told www.matildas.com.au.

“He tells me that a lot. Be on your toes. He also told me how proud he was of me. He’s an incredible person and he’s why I’m here today.

Roest
Roestbakken with Elise Kellond-Knight, whom the teenager replaced at left-back in Wednesday morning's win over Jamaica

“For him to be there and see me walk out in this jersey, it means absolutely everything to him – and it means everything to me. It’s so special.”

And Roestbakken’s World Cup could be about to get even more special, after the Matildas were drawn against World No. 12 Norway in the Round of 16.

The Scandinavian nation is the land of her father’s birth, and where he plied his trade as a second division footballer before emigrating to Australia.

But Roestbakken insists there will be no divided loyalties when the two sides face off for a quarter-final spot in Nice on Sunday morning (5:00am AEST).

“[my family] may be Norwegian, but they will definitely be putting the Matildas jersey on,” she said. 

World Cup France 2019™ – Round of 16 - Next Australia match

Norway v Australia
Date: Sunday, 23 June 2019 (AEST)
Venue: Stade de Nice, Nice
Kick-off: 5.00am AEST (9.00pm local time, Saturday 22 June)

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