Two years on from her debut, we take a look back at Cortnee Vine's career and the emotions behind that penalty against France.
On January 24, 2022 – two years ago today - Cortnee Vine became the 220th person to step onto the pitch as a CommBank Matilda, against the Philippines at the Asian Cup.
She was in the middle of a stunning A-League Women's season for Sydney FC. At times, she looked unstoppable. Her electric pace and ability to create – and score - opportunities at the domestic level led to her selection in the extended, and eventual final, squad for the continental tournament.
When she was given her cap by Captain Sam Kerr, she could hardly believe it.
“Honestly, it feels amazing,” she said at the time. “I’m lost for words. I’m feeling chuffed.
“I’m very, very honoured to wear this jersey.”
Little did she know that, just over 18 months later, she would go down in Australian sporting folklore, scoring a penalty that stopped the nation.
Vine has lived and breathed football for as long as she can remember. She began playing alongside her brother in regional Victoria, before moving to Brisbane at age seven.
It was in Brisbane where she began plotting her ambitions to become a professional footballer. She was part of the Queensland Academy of Sport before debuting for Brisbane Roar in 2015, as a 16-year-old.
It took her years to find her feet in the league. She played for the Newcastle Jets, the Western Sydney Wanderers and finally Sydney FC, where she really began to show her qualities as a player.
Throughout this period she battled injury and form issues as she sought to establish herself as a first-team player.
“I definitely fell out of love with the game when I was 19 or 20,” she admitted. “I was at a bit of a standstill.”
She worked hard both on and off the pitch, including starting a university degree before her football career really began to take off. She signed for Sydney FC in 2020, and the rest is history.
However, it is still in her childhood home in Brisbane where her ambition and determination to become a professional footballer from a young age resides. 12-year-old Vine – having just earned a spot at QAS – plastered her goals on the back of her bedroom door.
Among many – most of which have now been achieved - there’s one that stands out: ‘Play at a World Cup.’
“Getting selected for this lifelong goal that I’ve had on the back of my door since I was 12, and then getting selected not only for a World Cup but one on home soil, it was just that extra bit of – is that really happening to me?” she pondered, in an interview before the tournament.
It took seven caps for Vine to score her first goal in a CommBank Matildas jersey. She was entrusted by coach Tony Gustavsson to play as the centre-forward in Sam Kerr’s absence, having previously exclusively played as a winger. It was a gamble that paid off - Vine scored the first two of four goals on the way to a 4-1 victory over South Africa in London.
In an interview after the match, she emphasised her pride in her achievement. “I am happy that the gates are now open, so hopefully more to come, more Vine time,” she beamed.
‘Vine Time’ has become a phrase synonymous with the forward. Long-time teammate and friend Remy Siemsen has claimed credit for coining the expression, but it is one that has been enthusiastically adopted by fans over the journey.
It has appeared on merchandise, on signs and banners, and in countless social media posts. When Vine appears for the CommBank Matildas it is not just any time – it is #vinetime.
It’s fair to say that after 12 August 2023, the use of the phrase saw some substantial growth.
After a titanic 120-minute battle between the CommBank Matildas and France at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™, the quarter-final went all the way to penalties.
For all of Vine’s qualities, she had never been known for her penalty-taking. She admitted after the game that she didn’t think she had scored a penalty in a game situation at any level of football before. She was listed at number 10 on the list of penalty takers – she, as well as everyone watching, expected her to be a mere onlooker to proceedings.
Mackenzie Arnold saved Selma Bacha’s penalty, but then Steph Catley missed. Eve Perriset hit the post, but then Mackenzie Arnold hit the post. Three more each, in sudden death, stride for stride. Kenza Dali’s penalty was saved – twice – but then Clare Hunt’s penalty was saved.
When 19-year-old Vicki Becho hit the post with the 19th penalty of the shootout, Vine was the third Australian who had the chance to win it. ‘Score the winning penalty to send Australia to their first-ever World Cup semi-final’ was far too specific to be on the back of her bedroom door – this, surely, was beyond even her wildest dreams.
She converted. Australia went wild. It was Vine Time for the entire nation – and they went absolutely crazy for her.
She looked in disbelief after the match. “I don’t think it’s hit me,” she laughed.
“It does help in those moments to just think about that you’ve done it so many times, and you’ve hit that spot so many times,” she explained. “And I know there’s so many people watching, and there’s a lot of pressure, but it’s just about being in that moment and just trying to hit it how you hit it.”
So much has happened in the two years since Cortnee Vine made her CommBank Matildas debut. A home World Cup has changed the game in Australia, and tickets to see the national side play are the hottest commodity in town – and so much of that is down to one moment, with the Queenslander at the centre of it.
“To be successful at this World Cup… could just have a big ripple effect for Australian football for women’s, men’s, and that’s all I want to see for Australia,” she said before the tournament. “To do it for everyone that supported me, it would just be another thing that I never dreamt of happening.”
When the team lines up in front of a sold-out crowd at Marvel Stadium in February for Olympic qualification against Uzbekistan, she will know that she has played a big part in achieving that goal.