Wednesday, July 17, 2024

‘I Didn’t Have Any Doubts When Arsenal Approached Me’ Exclusive Interview with Caitlin Foord

Australian forward Caitlin Foord made her Gunners debut in a 2-0 win over Lewes in the FA Cup on Sunday. Foord opened her account for the club early in the second half and Tim Stillman spoke with her exclusively for Arseblog News.

Caitlin touched down in London last Saturday morning. In that respect, the postponement and seven day delay of the Lewes FA Cup tie proved to be very convenient for the Australian international- not least as she battles with jetlag! “I’ve been going to bed very early and waking up very early all week!” she laughs. “But I’ve been sleeping well and I think I’m over the worst of it now.”

Foord joined Arsenal from Sydney FC and Portland Thorns last month but had to wait until late February for her debut due to Olympic qualifying matches with the Matildas. She started and scored against Lewes on Sunday and Caitlin was delighted to finally get her debut out of the way, “I was extremely excited in the build-up to this game and I have been watching the girls play while I’ve been away with the Matildas and I really just wanted to join in!”

She opened the scoring early in the second half thanks to Danielle van de Donk’s 10th assist of the season, “I’m pretty happy with the goal, but the main focus was to get the win and that was the most important thing today.” The 25-year old has spent her career to date in her native Australia, alongside spells in Japan and with Portland Thorns in the US. Foord says that she felt like this was the right time for a new challenge in Europe.

“I’m very happy with his move,” she says instantly, the words tumbling out of her mouth, “I didn’t have any doubts for a second when Arsenal approached me and I don’t think I will in the future either. I have really enjoyed my first week here and I’m looking forward to the future. The training here has been top quality.” Caitlin is part of an Australian influx into the WSL this winter, with Hayley Raso signing for Everton, Chloe Logarzo signing for Bristol City and, of course, Sam Kerr joining Chelsea.

Foord and Kerr have been the Matildas’ strike force for some years now and next week, the pair will come face-to-face in the Conti Cup Final this weekend. Caitlin says the players have not yet exchanged messages ahead of the game, “We were both in the Matildas camp for the semi-finals when both teams were playing and we were watching the games on our phones,” Caitlin reveals.

“We knew in that moment that we would be playing one another in a final, but we’re used to playing against each other, we’ve done it a lot of times now, but needless to say we were both happy to play in a final so soon after joining.” Foord is not the only Australian at Arsenal, obviously. Manager and fellow Aussie Joe Montemurro sold the Gunners’ style of play to the forward.

“From my conversations with Joe, he was telling me about the style of play here and it was just ticking all of the boxes and I was thinking about all the things I like to do on the field as a player and it just made the move so exciting for me.” Coming to Arsenal means that Foord is no longer on the NWSL and W-League carousel.

It is common for Australian players to play in the USA because the Australian and American calendars synch up. Foord is relishing the opportunity to commit to a solitary schedule again, “Playing in back-to-back seasons for different clubs does become a lot, it was good for a little bit, but I think we [Caitlin and other Australian players moving to Europe] are at the point where we just want to play for one team and to have one focus and the WSL is a great move for a lot of us.”

I speak to Joe Montemurro shortly after and the manager is enthused by what Caitlin can bring to the team. “There was some vintage Caitlin Foord play today, she was very good with her back to goal and she’s very good at running at players. Her defensive qualities are very strong too. She’ll find the rhythm soon enough and she’ll find the spaces a little better as time goes on, she’s only been here for a week.

“She’ll need time to get used to the tempo, it’s a higher tempo here and we have a ball possession style here and she’s been used to a more transitional style in the US. I think we’re going to see a player who has a big value for Arsenal.” Caitlin already has a debut goal in her locker and, next week, she will aim to win silverware in her second game for the club. It’s a whirlwind start to life in London for Foord, but one she is relishing.

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Christopher Humphrey

Welcome Caitlin, nice to meet you yesterday. You seemed very much”at home” at Meadow Park on and off the pitch.

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