Decorated Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams has returned to the A-League Women, signing with Melbourne Victory for the next two seasons off the back of the Women’s World Cup.
The five-time World Cup attendee joins from Brighton and Hove Albion after previously having stints at Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal.
The 35-year-old said the World Cup on home soil had made her more eager to return home to Australia and inspire the next generation, especially young Indigenous football fans.
“Obviously being overseas for a while now and seeing just the push and the pull of women’s football and how it’s grown, then how we all did at the World Cup really helping inspire the next generation – (I was) really humbled and excited seeing a lot of Indigenous kids coming out and supporting,” Williams told AAP.
“That’s always really been something that I’ve wanted: to give back to the community and provide something for the future. So it was just an opportunity too good to be missed.
“I just felt that it was time to come back and be at the place where I first started and it’d be the place where I kind of end it all.
“Everything just fell into place and I’m really excited to come back to the league.”
The goalkeeper has won three championships and two premierships with Melbourne City, and one of each with Canberra United.
Williams replaces Casey Dumont, who has departed as she extends her AFLW commitments with Hawthorn.
“We’re thrilled to have a goalkeeper of Lydia’s calibre in the squad for the upcoming campaign,” coach Jeff Hopkins said.
“Her experience not only at A-League level but across Europe and internationally will be an invaluable asset to our squad on and off the field.”
The Matildas return to action in Olympic qualifiers in Perth in October but Williams played down her Paris 2024 ambitions.
“It’s just gonna depend how I go back in the league, and how my body holds up and everything. I’m obviously not retiring yet,” Williams said.
“It’s more about just getting some games under my belt again, and playing and being home and just enjoying the Aussie sun and the culture again, and laying the foundation for what the future might be.
“But I will never say no to another international competition. I mean, that’s what we all play for: to represent our country.”
A former City icon, Williams held no qualms about being on the other side of the local rivalry.
“It’ll be definitely different on the other side of the fence that’s for sure,” she said.