Last week, Ellie Carpenter was announced as both the Australian PFA’s Player of Year and Young Player of the Year. Impetus’ Kieran Yap outlines the continued growth of this outstanding 21 year-old from Cowra.
Above: Ellie Carpenter went toe-by-toe with Megan Rapinoe at the Olympics and came out on top. Photo: Getty Images.
Sam Kerr topped the scoring in England, won three trophies and made a Champions League final. In the months after, she scored six goals as Australia finished in the top four at the Olympics.
It felt inevitable that when Australia’s footballers voted for the PFA player of the year, the captain would take out the top award. Instead they named Ellie Carpenter, the 21-year-old defender who also, more predictably took out the Young Footballer Of The Year.
It is the correct decision, but that does not make it any less amazing.
In the space of five years, Carpenter has gone from young player with exciting potential to a talented but occasionally vulnerable right back.
She emerged from 2021 as an almost complete footballer.
After a breakout World Cup in 2019 and a strong W-League season at Melbourne City, Carpenter signed for Olympique Lyonnais.
The player that has emerged from a season at the powerhouse club is recognizable and familiar but something has changed.
Watching her play for Australia for the first time since her move to France felt like a cliché’d scene from a superhero movie.
It was her, but she looked different somehow as if she had gained strength, added some swagger and was realizing what she was capable of.
She has simply, gone to another level in every department, athletically, tactically and technically.
Carpenter’s true value to The Matildas is best measured in her absence. In the friendly games that she missed, Australia conceded 10 goals with eight of them coming from the right side of defence.
Her return to the line up coincided with steadily improving performances by the whole team. She provided stability and pace as the back and could trouble teams when she moved forward.
When she was suspended against the U.S.A in the Bronze medal match, Megan Rapinoe ran riot scoring a double. The winger had been subdued to the point of frustration by Carpenter in the group stage.
Carpenter has been Australia’s best player at centre back, at full back and practically as a winger at times. She is one of the best defensive players and attacking weapons.
She is a player that opposition teams need to plan around and worry about how she will be deployed. For a defender that’s remarkable.
To be so irreplaceable for club and country at this stage in her career is rare and clearly her peers are aware of her value.
Amongst Australia’s entire list of talented players no woman has won the Young Footballer of the Year and Footballer Of The Year simultaneously.
She is also the reigning AFC Asian Player Of The Year and been voted Lyon’s best new signing.
At 21 years old, Ellie Carpenter has reached the pinnacle of the game and is still improving.
We are still years away from finding out how good she could become, but we will be privileged to watch and find out.
Congratulations Ellie Carpenter.
Last month Impetus’ Ben Gilby profiled Ellie Carpenter for the site. His article can be read here: https://impetus885775742.wordpress.com/2021/07/20/ellie-carpenter-cowra-born-superstar-smashing-it-in-lyon/