Rising star Ellie Carpenter says Brazilian superstar Neymar inspired her burgeoning career as the Cowra-born Carpenter prepares to head to Brazil for the biggest tournament of her career.
Carpenter, who plays for Western Sydney Wanderers in the W-League, only turned 16 three months ago.
Her selection caps a remarkable rise by being named in the 18-player squad to take part in the women’s football tournament at next month’s Games in Rio.
And it’s fitting she will get that chance in Brazil with their footballing icon Neymar Carpenter’s favourite player.
“I love Neymar. I just love his flair and his individual skill.
"He doesn’t really care about anyone else he just plays his own game,” Carpenter told www.matildas.footballaustralia.com.au on Monday.
“That’s what I love most about him, he just takes it on like it’s his last game and I just love how he plays like that."
Carpenter’s selection in Alen Stajcic’s squad is a story of sacrifice and persistence.
Hailing from Cowra in country NSW near Bathurst, Carpenter’s parents would drive her to Canberra three times a week for training as well as to Sydney on weekends to play matches.
With the constant travel proving too much – and with the full backing of her parents – she decided to leave the family farm at the age of 12 and move to Sydney and Westfield Sports High to chase her footballing dream.
“You just have to take the opportunity and believe in yourself,” she said.
“My parents thought I could do it and were behind me all the way. That’s why they told me to move to Sydney and it’s all paid off now.
“I had to make the move if I wanted to go further.
“I really wanted it back then so now I just want it even more and I got it. I just have to keep working hard.”
Carpenter knows appearing at The Games will thrust her onto the world stage.
But she’s excited by the challenge and she is eager to make the most of the chance as she eyes a potential move abroad.
“It’s very overwhelming to figure I’m going to the world stage and other people could offer me different clubs.
"It’s an amazing opportunity for me to get over there and show the world what I can do and get myself out there,” she said.
“I would love to play over in Europe and in the Champions League on day, that’s one be one of my goals,” she added.
“I back myself in every situation I get on the field. I’m a pretty attacking player with a very aggressive mindset.”