Heyman: I feel like I can play, have fun and be free

After a 10-0 victory over Uzbekistan secured the CommBank Matildas Paris 2024 Olympic Qualification last night, hattrick hero, Michelle Heyman, spoke to media about her incredible return to the national team after a six-year absence.

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Having three goals under her belt inside the first 15 minutes before scoring her fourth in the 45th minute +2, Heyman shared the communication between herself and head coach Tony Gustavsson.

"Well, the job description for me as a forward, is to just get in the box and score goals. That's all I wanted to do, get out there and try and be in the best position every single time that ball got crossed in, to make sure I was there to finish," she said.

"When I looked at Tony after the third one, he was smiling and I think I even said, I've got five in me, hold on," she laughed. 

"The support I get from Tony, the staff and the team has just been incredible. It's allowed me to just play and have fun and be free. I think as a forward, you don't want to have so many restrictions on yourself. You want to be able to get out there and, do what you do best. And I'm just finding my feet and finding myself in good positions."

When asked to describe her journey thus far, Heyman summarised it as 'emotional,' explaining that being a happy person makes for some happy football.

"It's been a very emotional roller coaster. I've been pushing so hard to try and get back into this squad. As soon as I got the email to say that you're back in, I'm not letting it go," she shared.

"I'm going to do everything that I can, work as hard as possible and bring the positive energy that I can bring into a team. That's just my energy, it's who I am as a person. When I'm feeling as happy as I am, my football just flows and I become one with the game. 

"I'm lucky enough to have spent so many years within this team. I know the girls, how they play and I know the system. I've been watching so much over the last four to five years, so I've done my research and I know what I need to do to try and secure a spot in this team."

Heyman was asked if she saw herself filling the, 'Sam Kerr void,' with skipper Kerr currently recovering from an ACL injury, but she explained that Kerr is irreplaceable and Heyman sees herself offering different qualities.

Michelle Heyman of Australia celebrates after winning the AFC Women's Olympic Football Tournament Paris 2024 Asian Qualifier Round 3 match between Australia Matildas and Uzbekistan at Marvel Stadium on February 28, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

"It's always a lot of fun to try and be like Sam, but we're very different players and she's just quality," Heyman said. 

"I'm proud of everything that she's achieved in her journey so far. I've watched her grow up since she was a 16-year-old kid coming into the league and just destroying everyone. So I aspire to be like her, we're very similar in certain ways but I play my own game as well and I think I can bring some things that are quite different to what Sam brings as well.

"It's nice to be able to be that solid nine forward who can get in the box and just dominate when you're in front of goal but it's been an incredible journey and I'm grateful for the opportunity, so I'm just trying my hardest to smile and stay as long as possible."

Heyman had mentioned in the past that the largest crowd she'd ever played for during her time with the CommBank Matildas was around 20,000. She was asked what it was like now, playing in front of crowds of over 50,000.

"To hear how loud it was walking out, it gave me goosebumps," she said. 

"It was something that I've always wanted to be a part of, especially after the World Cup, it was so nice to be in the stands supporting the girls and just dreaming of being out there. I think that helped fuel the fire within myself to try and get back into the team because the atmosphere was insane for the World Cup. 

Now, to be able to experience something so special, to hear the crowd cheer for you in your homeland, it was a beautiful feeling. It was just so nice to see all of Australia support the Matildas. It's grown so much since 2010, when I first debuted to where we are now. 

It's an incredible feeling to be a part of that journey, and to see how Australia and the girls have done so much to make football what it is today. I just I'm so proud to be a part of it."