“I still get goosebumps thinking about it.”
Dianne Alagich has 86 international caps between 1995 and 2008 to her name. She participated in every match for Australia at two World Cups (1999 and 2003) and two Olympic Games (2000 and 2004). The South Australian defender was inducted into the Football Federation Australia Hall of Champions in 2011 for her pivotal performances in international and W-League competition and for her ongoing contribution to the sport.
THE OLYMPICS EXPERIENCE
How does preparing and playing for an Olympics feel different to other events (i.e., US Cup, World Cup, Asian Cup)?
The Olympics is the pinnacle of all sports and it’s an event which unites the whole world. It’s a completely different event and definitely more recognised amongst the general public. You feel part of a bigger team. Preparation however is exactly the same as it is for any other event or game.
What is your favourite Olympics memory?
Walking out at the opening ceremony in Sydney. I could not hear myself scream it was that loud. I still get goose bumps thinking about it. Listening to the Australian anthem before we played our first game was incredibly emotional and it’s when the realisation that I had become an Olympian sunk in.
What players did you enjoy playing with most throughout your international career?
I have too many fond memories of so many different players, it’s hard to single out any. However I especially loved our 2007 World Cup team. We had a rare and special bond. I also loved the experience I gained alongside fellow Aussie Julie Murray when we played professionally in the USA.
What is your most memorable Olympic match?
Two games stand out. First one at the Sydney Olympics against Brazil. Sunny Hughes scored an incredible goal and we were really pushing the Brazilians in that game, unfortunately narrowly losing.
Drawing against the USA in Athens felt like we had beaten them, the closest any Australia team had come to beating the USA team and also the point put us through to the next round.
Being a defender, who were the hardest forwards to play against?
Sun Wen from China, Marta from Brazil, and Hanna Ljunberg from Sweden. Julie Murray and Kele Golebiowski (Aussies).
[MORE: Golden Memories: Joey Peters]
MODERN DAY MATILDAS
Which Matildas players should we be looking out for at Rio? Who are you looking forward to watching?
I can’t wait to watch all the Matildas play, especially Caitlin Foord, she is such an exciting player. I Always enjoy watching [Lisa] De Vanna, Polkie [Clare Polkinghorne] the brave at the back, and KK [Elise Kellond-Knight] in the middle.
The Matildas face Zimbabwe, Canada and Germany in Group F. Who is their biggest challenge?
Even Germany didn’t qualify for the last Olympics, I think they will be our toughest opponents.
Considering the Matildas performances leading up to Rio this year, what do you consider to be our biggest strength and area of improvement?
Our attack is our strength, we have so many weapons now. Many players in the team are capable of finishing off games for us. Our biggest weakness is success at major events, but having said that, the way we qualified showed that we can handle pressure extremely well.
How far can we get this Olympics?
We can medal.
…You could represent Australia in any other Olympic event, what would it be?
…You could eat dinner with any Olympic athlete at The Village, who would you choose?
…You could play football for any other country in the Olympics, who would you play with?
Never, too loyal to the green and gold.