She made her World Cup debut as a teenager, he stepped up at the men's global showpiece for the first time last year at age 31. Neither is likely to blow their own trumpet but with a string of consistent performances behind them neither has to, which is why they earn a place in our Top 50.
24 EMILY VAN EGMOND
Quiet, Consistent Achiever
Position Midfielder Club Brisbane Roar (now Frankfurt)
The twin daughter of colourful coach Gary van Egmond, Emily, 24. is quieter than her father, but won’t hide in his shadow.
“There’s times he likes to give me advice… sometimes I like to hear it, sometimes I don’t,” Emily van Egmond said recently. “But he’s been massive in my career, a big influence for sure. I know I can trust his opinion because he’s speaking from experience and just trying to help.”
The current W-League Player of the Year, the incredibly consistent van Egmond is instrumental in controlling the midfields of her domestic, overseas and national teams.
The Matildas co-Vice Captain first played for Canberra United in the W-League before joining Western Sydney Wanderers and Newcastle Jets in subsequent seasons (in part because her family moved for her father’s work) and playing extensively overseas in the US-based league.
Van Egmond debuted at the 2011 Women’s World Cup aged just 17 and scored from an impressive free kick in the Matildas’ 3–2 win over Equatorial Guinea — a match that included the infamous ‘Hand of OMG’.
SHE SAID: “I’m four years older and have got another four years of experience since 2011...”
THEY SAID: “Van Egmond is an important cog in Australia’s national team.” Dom Bossi
23 MATT MCKAY
Position Midfielder Club Brisbane Roar
The Roar captain sits in an unenviable position – he is often the first criticised, and the last praised. Being consistently reliable earns few plaudits, but McKay deserves more credit than he gets. The energetic and versatile left-footer rarely misplaces a pass and he gets his team driving forward more often than not.
Add to that McKay’s ability to play solidly, albeit without the same conviction, at left-back at both club and international level and he is extremely valuable. He made 24 appearances in all competitions for the Roar in 2014/15 and was his usual self in the middle of the park. A lack of goals – McKay netted two in the A-League this season – is one reason the 32-year-old fails to get the plaudits he should.
But, with most of his appearances in a deeper midfield role, the addition of more goals is a huge ask. A midfielder who can maintain possession, lead his team and help them go forward, the under-appreciated McKay has been one of Australia’s best in the past year despite the Roar’s below-par season.
HE SAID: “We’ve had great success and we want to keep that going. You can’t stand still.”
THEY SAID: “It is handy to have a player like that in midfield – who works hard, never gives the ball away. If he starts scoring goals he is even more important.” Frans Thijssen