Stylish American midfielder Christine Nairn has been a key part of Melbourne Victory’s title defence as the champions jumped to second on Sunday with a tough win over Brisbane Roar in a grand final rematch.
With outstanding vision, close control and quality dead-ball delivery the former U-20 Women’s World Cup winner has been a welcome addition to the Westfield W-League.
Nairn, a Communications graduate and Annapolis native, last year turned out for her local NWSL club Washington Spirit before making the move Down Under.
Here, the 24-year-old talks through Melbourne’s recent form, their title aspirations, replacing Jess Fishlock in the heart of the Victory midfield and much more.
How important was it to get a win over Brisbane on Sunday?
It was a good three points. Brisbane has a bunch of world class players, in (Nadine) Angerer and (Katrina) Gorry and right through the team. To get a good result against them is huge, and we are excited. But we can’t be satisfied, we have room to improve and need to focus on that now.
The team had a bit of a mid-season slump. Do you think the team feels on the rise again?
We had a bit of a slump with injuries and stuff. I think everyone is coming back to full strength. We are excited to get out there again and have a good game against Newcastle.
You seem to have settled in very quickly at the Victory?
I think Melbourne plays a great style of soccer so I think I have fitted in well. We like to get it down and play as much as we can, and that really works in well with the way I play. We also have a bunch of Americans who I’m used to playing with and know their strengths. So I can work off that, and also Lisa (De Vanna) and Steph Catley, and bring out the best in everyone around us to make us look better. I think we are fun to watch, and I’m excited to see where we can go this season.
The Victory are reigning champions of course. Do you feel that has that has been an added pressure?
Maybe a little bit. I think the girls at the beginning of the season felt under the microscope because they won last year. But as the season has gone on I think we have just focussed on the style of play which has made us so successful. So I think the pressure is still there but I think has become smaller with each game.
How have you enjoyed living in Melbourne?
It has been a lot of fun. We are quite close to the city so there is a lot of good cafes and restaurants around so we are trying to get around and taste everything. It is a good city to live in.
Who is the hardest player you have come up against in the Westfield W-League?
I think Keelin Winters. We know each other in and out, and played each other for the past three or four years. We joke after the game, but in the game it is a battle.
And what about in the US?
Probably Jess Fishlock. In fact pretty much the whole Seattle (Reign) midfield; Jess Fishlock, Keelin Winters and Kim Little. They are three of the best players you could ask for in any midfield
And of course you have had the hard job of replacing Jess Fishlock in the Victory team this year?
You can’t really replace Jess Fishlock. If I’m considered half as good as Jess Fishlock that is a win for me.