Roar star Rankin’s ‘surreal’ feeling over maiden Matildas call-up

Brisbane Roar young gun Jamilla Rankin has described the disbelief she experienced upon learning of her maiden Commonwealth Bank Matildas call-up for this month’s match against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin.

The 18-year-old was named in a 25-player squad on Wednesday as Tony Gustavsson’s team commences a new international cycle spanning the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in 2022, the FIFA Women’s World Cup on home soil in 2023 and the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Rankin gained selection on the back of a breakout W-League campaign with the Roar which culminated in a Young Footballer of the Year nomination.

The teenager revealed she was sitting in her car over the weekend when an email appeared notifying her of the good news.

“It was crazy. It was surreal. I couldn’t believe it,” Rankin said.

“It took a while to sink in. I told my parents and they were really happy for me and proud that all the hard work is paying off. I think it will be a big step up, but a good opportunity to test myself, compare myself and see where I’m at.

“I’m happy to be there.”

Rankin is joined in the squad by eight former Roar players including four of her team-mates from last season, with one of those – Wini Heatley – also selected for the first time.

“It will be good that they are there,” she said.

“It’s good to have those familiar faces so that I’m not jumping too far into the deep end.”

Roar W-League Head Coach Garrath McPherson welcomed the news of Rankin’s selection.

“It is awesome to see Jamilla get an opportunity to join the Matildas for the upcoming FIFA window,” said McPherson, who also heads up the National Training Centre (NTC) program in Queensland that helped develop the defender.

“With her unrelenting focus on self improvement, she will continue to grow and this experience will be incredibly valuable for her.

“Jamilla was a QAS Player of the Year two years ago and had a breakout season with Brisbane Roar in the last W-League season.

“She continued her training with [Young Matildas head coach] Leah Blayney in Sydney earlier this year and it was Leah’s foresight three to four months ago that has allowed Jamilla to continue her training in Brisbane.

“It is wonderful to see Football Australia find innovative ways to allow Australian-based players to assemble for these camps in the current environment. I know there are many people behind the scenes working incredibly hard to make it happen.

“Brisbane Roar will always be supportive of our players with national team commitments and we cannot wait to see Jamilla back in Brisbane for pre-season.”

Rankin and her Australia team-mates will begin to gather over the weekend as they prepare to meet the Republic of Ireland at Tallaght Stadium in the early hours of Wednesday, 22 September (AEST).