Few players boast such a colourful football CV as Aivi Luik, with the midfielder blossoming at her latest stop – Westfield W-League form team Melbourne City.
The 30-year-old Perth-born, Gold Coast-raised Luik has played competitive club football in USA, Canada, Ukraine, Denmark and this year, in of all places, Iceland. That is aside from the several overseas sojourns made during her 16 cap, five-year journey with the Westfield Matildas, highlighted by an important role in the heart of midfield during the famed 2010 AFC Asian Cup win in China.
Somewhat appropriately Luik boasts a diverse background of Hungarian and Swedish parents, complemented by an Estonian surname.
“I love to travel, and have adventure,” Luik says with no little over-statement.
Two years away from the game with a nagging hamstring injury saw Luik miss selection for this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, which indirectly set her on a path for Iceland and club side Fylkir.
“After getting cut from the World Cup squad in May I didn’t want to stick around,” says Luik, taking up the story. “My head space wasn’t right. My agent started looking in Europe and initially we were looking at Sweden, but an offer came from Iceland and they were really keen.”
Luik thus found herself in the remote island nation in the far north Atlantic from July to September, where at that time of year, there are just three hours of darkness every day.
A self-confessed outdoors type, Luik was “in heaven,” during her time off from club commitments. “When I wasn’t playing and training I was out exploring every other day,” she said. “Hiking up mountains and running down the other side, going and seeing waterfalls and geysers, and I went ice climbing. I’m an outdoors person so I love adventure.”
Iceland proved an experience on the field as well where she was a teammate of one-time Canberra United fan favourite known for her rapidly changing colourful hair; Taiwanese attacker Shu O Tseng.
“They are really physical over there, and the referees don’t call up much,” she said. “You just have to hack it and just learn to be stronger.”
Now after previous stints at Brisbane Roar and Perth Glory, Luik finds herself on the wild ride that is Melbourne City. The league’s newest club have put together an all-star team, and with four wins from as many starts they are more than meeting expectations.
“It has been (an) amazing (experience),” Luik says, with genuine joy in her voice. “Even just being on the field watching what is going on around me, I’m in awe half the time. It is such a good feeling to know and trust every player out there. Sometimes it feels like it is all almost in slow motion.
“We have been so happy with how it started. Brisbane (on 22 November) will be a true test as we will have played all the favourites and know a bit more where we sit.
“It has gone well and that is partly because of the pre-season prep, and Pep (coach Joe Montemurro), and the experience that we have.”
And Luik is not only enjoying strong form, but is also suddenly finding herself on the scoresheet. She has now netted twice in the first four games, compared to a career tally of just three in 39 previous Westfield W-League appearances.
“Yeah definitely,” laughs Luik when asked if she is enjoying life as a goalscorer. “Especially a top-corner one like that last one (against Canberra last Sunday).
“But more than that, I’m just happy that we have scored an average of four goals a game. It is almost to the point where you start to worry what will go wrong, it is has gone too well!”