Being recalled to the Matildas squad five years after retiring from football for mental health reasons has veteran striker Michelle Heyman feeling like she’s “21 again”.
The 35-year-old Canberra United forward has been named in Australia’s squad for this month’s two-legged, home and away Olympic Games qualifier against Uzbekistan.
“I feel like I’m 21 again,” said Heyman, who made the most recent of her 61 Matildas appearances in 2018.
The following year she stepped away from all football before returning in 2020 to play in the then W-League to play for Canberra United.
“Since 2020 I’ve been fighting to be back in this squad, and to be given the opportunity means the world to me,” Heyman said on Wednesday.
“For myself to get this call up, it’s changed my life. I can’t wait to be back with the team to help, (and) give a little bit of me to show I’ve still got this.”
Heyman said she had felt like a “robot” when she quit football five years ago.
“Back then, in 2019, you couldn’t really use the word mental health. You just had to retire and step away,” she said.
“I needed that break, I needed time to be a human, not be a robot.
“Being in the national camp back then was a lot for your body, and doing that 10 years straight, I definitely needed a rest.
“I feel fitter, I feel healthier, happier and stronger than I was back then.”
“I’ve been working so hard in the off-season and during this season to get my spot back in the squad, and I can’t wait to take the opportunity with both hands and run with it.”
Heyman intends to make it extremely difficult for Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson to overlook for Paris Olympics selection should the Australians complete their qualifying task against Uzbekistan.
“I score goals for fun, and I’m excited to be able to show that to Tony, show that in camp, then hopefully get the chance to pull the jersey on again and show Australia I can do this,” she said.
Also thrilled to be recalled to the national squad was Western United midfielder Chloe Logarzo, whose most recent Matildas appearance was in November, 2022.
“It’s amazing to be back in the squad,” said Logarzo, who missed selection for last year’s World Cup despite battling her way back from a serious knee injury.
“For me, it’s just about finding the love for the game again. This sport is so cruel, yet so beautiful at the same time.”