Linda O’Neill was named Western Sydney Wanderers 2013/14 Women’s Player of the Year on April 29 after a standout season her coach Steve Roche described as “incredible.”
The Wentworth Falls resident — who turns 22 next week — told the Gazette she felt “shocked when called to the stage because this is probably the first award I’ve won since I was in the U7s for Wentworth Falls Warriors”.
Mr Roche said Ms O’Neill was “by a mile our best player last season and I’m so glad the players voted that way”.
“The team was hit by injuries so I think we played Linda in just about every position on the field, bar goalkeeper.
“A midfielder, she wasn’t signed to do that utility role but she not only did everything we asked of her tactically, she played incredibly well each match.”
Ms O’Neill said after playing off the bench the previous season “I was just happy to be on the field anywhere and I ended up playing everywhere”.
“The injuries meant a lot of others got the chance to step up and play for the Wanderers this season, which is a positive.
“While we didn’t make the finals, I think we were competitive in most games but the scoreboard didn’t show that.
“Personally, I felt more relaxed and enjoyed my football more and I think I played better because of that.”
Ms O’Neill ended the season as the Wanderers’ most capped female player (24 games) and one of the most experienced young players in the W-League (58 games) having formerly played for Sydney FC and the Newcastle Jets.
“The Wanderers is such a community-oriented club and the fans here are awesome.
“I feel the women’s team is more a part of this club and more involved as a whole than at other clubs I’ve played for.”
She is keeping herself busy off the field too, completing a nursing degree at the University of Western Sydney in December and starting her first nursing job at Nepean Hospital in February.
The former Young Matildas player said she has not given up hope of representing Australia one day.
“Playing for the Matildas has always been a dream of mine, but at the moment I’m just enjoying my [club] football.”