‘She brings everything’: New update in future of ‘the face of women’s football in Australia’

'A little bit scared to be honest': Antoni Jagarinec discusses appointment as Canberra United head coach

Canberra United’s newly-appointed head coach Antoni Jagarinec says off-contract superstar Michelle Heyman is no guarantee to return to the club in 2024-25 – but is confident the Matildas striker hasn’t played her last game in green.

Jagarinec was confirmed as Canberra head coach on Monday, June 24 after serving as assistant at the club for the past two seasons.

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The 38-year-old says he has enjoyed a decade-long professional relationship with Heyman and is in discussions with the veteran forward about a return to the club for the 2024-25 Liberty A-League season.

Heyman, the competition’s all-time leading scorer and the only player to have bagged more than 100 goals in the league’s history, has enjoyed a career resurgence of late and her dazzling Liberty A-League form has resulted in a return to the international scene where she’ll compete compete for a spot in Australia’s Paris 2024 Olympic Games squad.

Speaking in his first press conference as Canberra head coach, Jagarinec said Heyman must make a choice that’s right for her in the latter stage of her playing career but is confident the club will be competitive in the 2024-25 Liberty A-League season should she choose to re-commit or not.

“I’m fortunate to have (had) a working relationship with Michelle for over 10 years, so we can have some pretty honest and robust conversations about what’s best for the club, but also what’s best for her,” Jagarinec said.

“The last six months have been wild for her. She needs to recalibrate what the rest of her football career looks like. 35-36 years old, she doesn’t have 10 years and she can’t waste a minute, which is great. So we’re in discussion with her at the moment, like I said, to recalibrate what’s best for her where she is right now. But I’m very confident that won’t be her last time in green.

“Michelle Heyman is Michelle Heyman. She’s the face of women’s football in Australia, I believe at the moment. But she’s only one piece of the puzzle. We want Michelle Heyman, she brings everything, the Canberra community want her, absolutely.

“Once again, she needs to do what’s best for her right now, that highly likely could be Canberra United. It might not be too, but that’s okay. So we’re going to run in tandem with that, we’re going to build a team to be competitive on the park – obviously working with Michelle Heyman or not, that’s okay.”

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The club is yet to announce any re-signings or new arrivals but have confirmed the departures of three star players: Vesna MilivojevicChloe Lincoln and Sasha Grove.