Every team needs a great personality and in the Matildas there are plenty of those.  One such player is defender Servet Uzunlar.

The dichotomy of Uzunlar's personality is fascinating.  Fun, playful, self-deprecating off the pitch yet intense, focused and self-critical on it. 

Uzunlar is another of those players who was destined for the Matildas from a young age.  Of Turkish decent, and born into a football loving family, it wasn't surprising that she laced up her first boots at age 5. 

From then it was rapid and linear rise to the Matildas through her local U11/12 representative team (as the only girl), NSW Institute of Sport, Sydney FC and then the national team.  An attacking defender (be it full back or centre back), it's her creative ability and launching of attacks that was first noticed by Tom Sermanni and she has certainly provided plenty of drive at international and club level.  It's something she comes by naturally.

Rumour is that you were a midfielder in your past life Servet.  So how did you find yourself in the heart of defence?

I was actually a striker in my past life, and I was good striker at that! [laughs].  Soon I sort of found my way into the midfield because there is always a bunch of strikers coming through and it is hard to get a spot.

Then in Season Two of the W-League, Sydney lost some of their defenders for various reasons.  I didn't stick my hand up, but I must have stuck out like a sore thumb, and Staj [Alen Stajcic] was like "You.  Get in the back".  I played in the back line that season and the national team coach saw me and I guess that kicked off my national team career.

Although an accidental conversion, Uzunlar took to the role with aplomb, stepping into the imposing shoes of Cheryl Salisbury and Dianne Alagich.  What followed was a great period for the rebuilding national team with Uzunlar one of its solid foundations.  So much so that her peers voted her the PFA Footballer of the Year in 2010; the Matildas Asian Cup winning year.

What was the Asian Cup experience like for you?

The Asian Cup was a big milestone.  You are playing in a tournament for your country at a high level and actually winning.  Being the first Australian team to win anything, that was just amazing.  The Asian Cup and the World Cup experiences were almost on par.

Another stellar W-League season followed for Uzunlar with Sydney FC coming agonizingly close to winning back to back championships.  Again the centre-back formed the back bone of Sky Blues as they went on to have the best defensive record in the league.  All of that was a prelude to the big one; the FIFA Women's World Cup.  Uzunlar found out she was on the plane at a 6:00am training session and like many it was the realisation of a childhood dream.

What was it like to play in the World Cup?

Surreal.  Being in Germany was even better.  The crowds were amazing, playing in front of my family, being in the tunnel with FIFA song playing and shaking the hands of Marta before our first game of the World Cup.  It was just so surreal.

It almost felt like it was so far away and a goal that would never get there.  And then you are there and it's just unbelievable.

After a fantastic first up game against Brazil, the dream unfortunately turned into a nightmare for Servet.  In front of 15,000 plus fans in Bochum, she had moments that all defender dread.  While she can laugh about it now, at the time it was a truly traumatic experience for the usually self-assured 23 year old.

That Equatorial Guinea game.  What were your feelings and emotions at the time and how do you get over it?

Hopefully I will get over it any day now [laughing].  It still haunts me til this day.  For me it was a World Cup of ups and downs.  Just that second game, I don't know.  It's like I just had a brain freeze I guess.

When the first one happened it was just at the back of my head and I was looking at the clock hoping that we had time.  Then the second mistake.  I was like "What's going on?" and "You're terrible".

Oh and what a place to do it [laughing].  Everyone saw it.  You can't hide from it and that game doesn't get brushed over at all [still laughing].  It's on all the highlights.

But you live, you learn.  That's football.  Obviously though being in the back line is a massive responsibility and you can't afford to make mistakes.  And that was pretty much highlighted by those two mistakes!!

suzunlar3How did you mentally get yourself up and focused for the next two games.  A crucial group game with Norway and the quarter final?

Coming into the third group game, I was nervous and everyone was saying "Don't worry, you're a great player".  But all of that doesn't mean anything being me.  Being in my own head, and I am very much in my head, I critique myself very hard.  It was hard but I tried to block it out and set myself to say "Just forget it and just play".  But it was extremely hard.

Lessons learned and confidence re-built, Uzunlar has just come off another excellent W-League season where at full back she once again displayed her defensive and attacking capabilities.  With the W-League in its off season and little international football on the horizon, playing overseas was the next logical step.  The US is the destination as she now heads off to United Soccer Leagues side Pali Blues. 

So how did your signing with the Blues come about Servet?

Well, I was thinking of going to Atlanta Beat to play in the WPS but when that folded I started looking for another club.  I sent emails out to a couple of different clubs including the LA Strikers and one to Charlie [coach Charlie Naimo] and the Pali Blues.

The Pali Blues just stood out to me and Sarah Walsh, who is friends with Charlie, told me that it's a good club and that he was a good coach.  Just talking to him I got a good vibe and he seemed to be really positive and enthusiastic so I went that way.

What are you looking to get out of experience?

Charlie seems extremely enthusiastic.  I have heard good things about him from a lot of people.  He has signed a lot of young talented players and the roster is looking really good.  I am just excited to get over there.

I am looking to grow as a player with new football experiences in a new environment and new coaching style.  Just to pick up anything and everything.