Matildas defender Jenna McCormick has returned to the A-League with Melbourne City after a life-changing six months abroad with Real Betis.
McCormick, 26, was one of several Matildas to depart the W-League for Europe this year but returns after making the one appearance for Betis – with her and the club mutually terminating the two-year contract.
Despite her time in Spain not going to plan, McCormick believes she leaves Betis ‘’a better human’’ and has learned to place a greater significance on things outside football.
‘’The last six months have really changed the type of person I am for the absolute better,’’ she said.
‘’It’s given a new perspective on what it’s like to be a human first and a footballer second. I know that through a difficult period and challenges that I’m a better human and teammate for it.
‘’Sometimes life doesn’t work out the way you planned and I certainly faced a number of challenges in Spain. The biggest one being the language barrier, I’ve never been one to shy away from challenges but sometimes the shoe just doesn’t fit.’’
The W-League’s professionalism was also a factor in enticing McCormick to return.
While the 26-year-old understands there is still plenty of work to be done in improving the competition and its ability to attract big games – she believes there is no underselling the professional operation of the clubs.
‘’The W-League is a lot more advanced than people think in terms of the conditions and standards and the way players are treated,’’ she said.
‘’Spain is still semi-professional with the exception of some great teams like Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, at the end of the day it’s still semi-professional. It’s actually opened my eyes to what we do have here in the W-League and how far advanced it is.
‘’I’ve been really lacking that supportive environment for the last few months which is why I’ve come back and signed with City because I know I’ll get that there.’’
McCormick will re-unite with long-time friend and Matildas teammate Emma Checker in the heart of the City defence this season.
The club has been forced to bring in several new recruits – including former Junior Matildas captain Tori Tumeth and US defender Samantha Johnson – after a mass exodus of players heading overseas at the end of last season.
Melbourne City kicks off its W-League campaign against Sydney FC in a rematch of last season’s Grand Final at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday 30 December.