Ellyse Perry: The ex-pro football star who became the greatest in women's cricket

Becoming one of the best players to ever feature in their respective sport is something almost every athlete dreams of. But for Ellyse Perry, it is her reality.

Not only is the Australian heavily regarded as the best women’s cricket player in history, but she also made waves as a footballer.

Perry made both her football and cricket debuts in 2007 and is the only Australian in history to appear in both ICC and FIFA World Cups.

The remarkable thing about Perry is her twin sporting career. For almost a decade, the Aussie phenomenon played both sports, before she was forced to choose just one to pursue full-time.

The majority of Perry’s success has come from the cricket field, but she has much to celebrate as a former footballer too.

A career in football

Perry made her debut for the Australian national team just two weeks after playing her first international cricket match. At 16 years of age, she had already written her name in history.

The Australian needed just two minutes to score her first international goal — contributing to a huge 8-1 win over Hong Kong in an Olympic qualifying match.

Despite primarily playing as a defender, Perry was partial to a goal on both the domestic and international stage.

She joined her first club, the Central Club Mariners, in 2008, before signing to Canberra United where she won the club’s Player of the Year award and was named W-League Young Player of the Year in 2009

The rising star also won the W-League title with Canberra in 2012, before leaving the capital for her next club.

Perry then enjoyed a four-year stint at Sydney FC, where she played alongside the likes of now-Chelsea superstar Sam Kerr and England international Jodie Taylor.

As well as her individual accolades and W-League title, Perry took part in the 2011 FIFA World Cup, where she became the first Australian player to represent her nation at World Cup level in both football and cricket.

Focusing on cricket full-time

In 2012, Perry was asked to choose between the two sports she loved.

She continued juggling both for another three years, but a clash of schedules became impossible to avoid and Perry eventually played her final W-League match in 2015.

She admitted her path towards a single-sport career came organically, but she stressed she “truly enjoyed [her] time playing football.”

After swapping her football boots for batting pads, Perry went on to become one of the greatest players cricket has ever seen.

When she made her debut at just 16, she was completely unaware of the heights she would reach and the amount of people she would inspire.

Now 31, Perry has established herself over the years as a genuine all-rounder, dominating with both her batting and bowling abilities.

Her glittering portfolio boasts 11 Women’s National Cricket League titles with the New South Wales Breakers, five ICC Women’s World Twenty20 titles, and a World Cup after Australia beat the West Indies for the trophy in 2013.

As well as her team achievements, Perry has been honoured for her individual performances over the years.

She was voted the ICC Women’s ODI and T20I Cricketer of the Decade for 2011-2020, and named the Women’s Ashes Player of the Series on three occasions.

Perry is also the three-time recipient of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Award, which honours the ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year.

As of October 2021, she officially became Australia’s most capped women’s player after making her 252nd appearance.

While Perry is known for her astonishing career in cricket, perhaps her most impressive achievement was managing a twin sporting era for as long as she did.

The Aussie put her heart and soul into both football and cricket for almost ten years, and scooped prestigious awards — both team and individual — along the way. For this, among the many other things that make Perry the ultimate role model, she will go down in sporting history.

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