Emily van Egmond has been part trailblazer and part globetrotter, professionally going about her business for more than a decade as one of Australia’s finest sporting exports on the football fields of the US and Europe.
There is, however, one quality the distinguished Matildas midfielder admits she lacks.
“Patience is what’s needed right now. Patience is the exact right word,” she tells AAP earnestly, adding with a grin: “And I have none of it!”
Like the rest of her fellow Matildas currently gracing England’s upwardly mobile Women’s Super League, West Ham loanee midfielder van Egmond is loving the fresh adventure but is hugely impatient to join forces with her national teammates.
When asked if Australia can strike gold at next year’s Olympics, the 97-time capped Newcastle athlete responds: “Absolutely. We feel we can challenge the best.”
Just one problem. Though there are 10 Matildas in the WSL, including seven in London, who keep in touch remotely during England’s COVID-19 lockdown, the restrictions mean they’ve not played together since a superb Olympic qualifying campaign in March.
It worries van Egmond. For while the six countries ahead of Australia in the FIFA rankings will all be playing matches or having inter-camp training this weekend, the Matildas can only look on enviously.
“It’s so important we get together soon so we aren’t missing the boat while we sit here and watch all these other teams playing friendlies or Eurogames. We’re just like chomping at the bit to have a game.
“It plays on the back of everyone’s mind, especially because we have a new coach on board (Tony Gustavsson, who’s finishing his job as manager of Swedish club Hammarby) and we’re all so eager to work together to be the best team we possibly can be for the Olympics.
“Speaking to the (London-based) girls, we’re all so keen to get together, learn from the new coach and see what he has to bring to the table.
“We were actually joking about this the other day, just saying we might just get together and form our own little camp!”
It’s a non-starter, she knows, but van Egmond takes solace in the thought that at least she and her fellow WSL Aussies are steeling themselves each week by playing against some of the world’s best.
This has always been her philosophy, having had a pro football education in five different countries with 12 different teams.
Van Egmond’s been intrepid, independent-minded and courageous ever since playing in Denmark as a teen and then joining Frankfurt in the Frauen-Bundesliga after spells in the US.
“To push myself, test myself against some of the best from a young age has definitely helped shape me into the player I am today,” she says.
“I think it’ll pay dividends for all the Matildas. The positive thing is that we’ve a really good core of girls over here playing regular, high-quality football.
“Sometimes, it’s not easy when you’re spending a lot of time away from family and friends and though you don’t feel – I don’t want to say lonely, but what’s the word?.. – it’s just nice to know you have your Australian teammates kind of close. It’s a good feeling.”
Even amid a turbulent period for West Ham, who have just parted ways with manager Matt Beard, the 27-year-old van Egmond has flourished with four goals in her last five games.
By her own choice, she lives on her own in east London but if she ever needs any advice a daily call with dad Gary, the former Socceroo who now oversees Australia’s Under-20s, does the trick.
“He’s definitely one of my, if not my biggest support system. I’m very fortunate to have him,” she smiles.
Even with the locked down English winter descending – “I’m not good in the cold,” says this self-confessed beach girl ruefully – there’s an irrepressible confidence in van Egmond.
“Aussies, as part of their mentality, there’s no real fear factor at all,” she says.
“We all love to go out, do the best we can and play with a smile on our face. The Matildas? We’re a super-exciting, attacking team to watch and can’t wait until we meet up again in January. Next year is going to be a good one.”