Big praise for Arsenal’s other Aussie as heart-warming moment sums up 9 years of progress

There was a heart-warming moment in Arsenal’s press conference before their blockbuster showdown with the A-Leagues All Stars Women side in Melbourne on Friday night.

As Arsenal legend Kim Little and Matildas superstar Steph Catley fronted the media alongside head coach Jonas Eidevall, the former Melbourne City pair were brought back to the future by one journalist.

The reporter rewinded to 2015-16 when Little and Catley spent a season playing together for Melbourne City in the Liberty A-League, holding up a signed match ticket from nine years ago.

It was an historic season, coincidentally under this year’s A-League All Stars Women head coach Joe Montemurro, as City became the first team to win the Championship while going undefeated.


After Catley joked about whether her signature was still the same as the journalist showed the match ticket, Little told reporters: “I played with Steph which was fun, under Pep (Montemurro) who is also the coach of the A-League team which is quite bizarre.

“I haven’t been back (to Melbourne) and obviously to be back at AAMI Park, where we played our semi-final against Brisbane (Roar). Lots of fun memories. I loved living here. I loved the city. So it’s nice to be back.”

Little spent five years with Arsenal – who also boast Matildas star Caitlin Foord and Kyra Cooney-Cross – in her first stint up until 2013 before returning to the Gunners four years later.

The 33-year-old midfielder has seen the transformation and growth of women’s football in that time as Women’s Super League (WSL) giants Arsenal continue to shatter crowd records in the UK.

On the back of an historic 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Liberty A-League has experienced significant growth.

In Little’s own experience, the Scotswoman said: “You can see the change over a period of time. It obviously takes time. It’s part of it.

“You can see once people see potential in the game, clubs investing in teams. We’re a prime example of that.

“From when I played in the W-League back then, we only had a few hundred at home games. To even say there’s a few thousand at games this season is an improvement already. I think most women’s leagues if they grow in the right way, a sustainable way with belief from all involved, have a lot of potential.”

Catley is back in her hometown for Friday night’s showdown at Marvel Stadium.

She witnessed the impact of the World Cup first hand last year and the A-Leagues legend added: “I think the change has been astronomical since the World Cup.

“Since that Grand Final, I’m not sure how many were there. Not a whole lot and that’s sort of the standard – it was a big crowd back then and something we’d be grateful for.

“Now that’s something which is completely different. The ceiling has been completely blown away since the World cup in Australia. It’s something I couldn’t imagine back in the day that we would be where we are now. It’s pretty special.”


Image source: Arsenal

There is a strong Australian contingent at Arsenal with Catley, Foord and Cooney-Cross but they are not the only Aussies with the London club.

Former Melbourne Victory high performance coach and analyst Aaron D’Antino also calls the Gunners home as Eidevall’s assistant coach.

D’Antino was first lured to Arsenal by Montemurro in 2018.

D’Antino and former Arsenal boss Montemurro reunited at AAMI Park on Thursday night.

Eidevall said: “Aaron has great energy. He cares about all the details in our program.

“I think he is a real glue in the building.”

Little added: “I’ve worked with Azza for nearly as long as I’ve been back.

“We all love Aaron. A great person and coach. He has worked with a lot of us for a number of years. It’s nice he’s back here to see his family too. I couldn’t speak more highly of Azza.”

Eidevall also said: “It’s a great opportunity to see the best of a league that’s produced so many great talents over the years” with Catley, Foord and Cooney-Cross all progressing through the Liberty A-League before moving to Europe.”