Elise Kellond-Knight etched her name into Australian football folklore this morning.
The Queenslander became the seventh player to reach 100 international caps for the Westfield Matildas in today’s 1-1 draw with England at Craven Cottage.
Fittingly, the 28-year-old crowned her moment in the sun with a perfect corner delivery for Clare Polkinghorne’s late equaliser. Overall it was a performance that reminded everyone why she’s been such a crucial – and at times unsung – part of the Westfield Matildas for nearly a decade.
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Bursting onto the scene
Kellond-Knight made her Westfield Matildas debut in an 8-1 Olympic Games qualifier win against Hong Kong in August 2007.
The Gold Coast local has been ready for the biggest stage from early on – that debut came six days before her 17th birthday. Since then, Kellond-Knight has been a quietly formidable presence on the pitch in both her club and national careers.
She shone in the Westfield W-League’s maiden campaign, where she won the Premiership and Championship double with Brisbane Roar and was the joint winner of the competition’s Young Player of the Year Award.
A star on the world stage
Few players can boast the same levels of versatility and professionalism that Kellond-Knight has displayed consistently throughout her sensational career.
Her consummate professionalism saw the Southport-born midfielder guide Australia to an AFC Women’s Asian Cup win in 2010 and a quarter final finish in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup one year later.
Remarkably, Kellond-Knight was still just 20-years old for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany. But she played every minute of Australia’s campaign and would ultimately be selected in the 21-player all-star team at the end of the competition.
After matching it with some of the world’s best stars on the biggest stage of all, there was little surprise when ‘KK’ earned the FFA Female Footballer of the Year award in 2011.
An unsung hero at both ends of the pitch
Kellond-Knight has always had impeccable timing, whether it be from a set-piece delivery or in the defensive challenge.
The former was on display when she scored her first Westfield Matildas goal against Korea Republic to send Australia through to the AFC Women’s Asian Cup final in 2014.
Kellond-Knight’s prowess from the dead ball has been one of the most eye-catching parts of her career and appropriately, her maiden strike in green and gold arrived from a set-piece, which evaded a crowd of bodies in the penalty area and nestled in the far corner.
Her deadly left footed in-swinging deliveries have terrorised opposition defences since her early days, and have constantly highlighted her ability to influence the action at both ends of the pitch.
Australia’s versatile enforcer
Kellond-Knight has been one of Australia’s strongest tournament performers since her debut, and the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015 was no different.
This time, Kellond-Knight was fielded in a central role and was once again named in the tournament all-star team, this time alongside teammate Lisa De Vanna.
Her ability to play all over the park has made her a priceless asset for the Westfield Matildas, and in recent years Kellond-Knight has been one of Alen Stajcic’s key tactical enforcers.
This was again evident when Australia stunned the world at the 2017 Tournament of Nations, where Kellond-Knight kept Stajcic’s side ticking over and patrolled the middle third in history-defining sequence of results for the team.
With the 2018 FIFA Women’s World Cup edging closer, Kellond-Knight could be set to lead Australia’s best ever shot at the title. Having starred in the two previous tournaments and helped foster a remarkable evolution for the Westfield Matildas, it would only be fitting if she led the team to glory in France next year.