Matildas defender Jenna McCormick says a horror stint at Spanish club Real Betis, where she felt disrespected and barely played, forced her hand in cutting her time in Europe short.
The centre-back joined Real Betis on a two-season deal in July but by December parted ways with the club and joined Melbourne City.
McCormick said she’d joined the Spanish club with an “open mind” and a determination to work hard – but never settled in, with language barriers and a relative lack of support compared to that provided in Australia proving particularly difficult to overcome.
“I just felt very isolated and came across quite a few thick language barriers that were the important ones,” she said.
“It was very, very difficult for me to to do my job without any information – so basically going in blind.
“I just didn’t get the respect that I deserved as a footballer – or as a human first and then as a footballer second.”
With new Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson on board – and set to have team and individual catch-ups with players next week – McCormick said getting match minutes and contending for a berth at the Tokyo Olympics was her main and immediate priority.
“Obviously I’m time-sensitive here, we’ve got the Olympics coming up, and for me, if the shoe doesn’t fit, I needed to make that decision to get back into a place where I could be playing minutes and I’m going to be a lot more happier – just to give myself the best chance of selection,” she said.
Since joining City, McCormick has played two full games, while she has also deputised for injured skipper Emma Checker – taking the captain’s armband for the first time in her W-League career.
She will again lead City out against former club Melbourne Victory in Sunday’s derby.
“That was my thing from the beginning – just to strip it back and just enjoy playing again and I’m certainly in the right place to do that,” she said.
“I’ve obviously still got a little bit to make up on but I’ve been really surprised how much I could just fast-track the mental well-being from pretty poor to almost feeling 100 per cent again.”
Despite her difficult experience in Spain, McCormick was adamant she hadn’t been scared off returning to Europe in the future.
“I definitely will be going away again but where and how will be more fine-tuned, I think, this time,” she said.