Brisbane Roar's Jamilla Rankin is one of the best centre-backs in the ALW and being mentored by a Matildas great helped her stunning rise to national honours.
Brisbane Roar centre-back Jamilla Rankin is forever grateful for the mentoring she received from Matildas legend Clare Polkinghorne.
The 19-year-old debuted for the Matildas against Spain in June after a meteoric rise from Eureka Football Club in the Byron Bay hinterland where she grew up playing with boys and unaware of the pathways that existed for girls.
Ahead of the fifth-placed Brisbane's home A-League Women game against second-placed Sydney FC on Saturday, Rankin told AAP why she feels blessed to have previously played with Polkinghorne at the Roar.
The veteran centre-back is one of the best in her position in the world and took Rankin under her wing.
"To get the exposure to play with her at a young age really helped me form my football at this top level and has helped me grow," Rankin said.
"I am so grateful to have been mentored by her. She is one of the greatest centre-backs in Australian football history.
"She has taught me how to play the game, manage the game and do the simple stuff right. Clare has helped me play with confidence. She just backs me ... and told me to back myself.
"Being in that (Matildas) environment this year was such a privilege and gave me the opportunity to see where I need to be at. It also gave me the drive to keep working hard to get there."
Rankin's experience at Eureka Football Club moulded her.
"I was a bit shielded at a young age and I think that helped me grow," she said.
"I wouldn't have it any other way. I was playing with boys up until I was 14 or 15 and didn't even know pathways existed. That just helped me to play for the love of the game and led me here."
A turning point was when her talent was recognised at Liverpool FC International Academy in Lismore.
"That provided me with the linking opportunity to go over and train in England for a little bit which was pretty crazy at such a young age," she said.
"I was able to compare myself to people across the world and it opened my eyes to show me 'you've really got a shot at this'. That drove me to push on with this as a career."
The World Cup in Australia next year is a massive incentive but Rankin's philosophy is if you perform in the moment, your opportunities will come.
That moment will arrive on Saturday against a Sydney side that has won four games on the trot and beat the Roar 4-0 just three weeks ago.
"Sydney are always a very clinical team," Rankin said.
"When we played them last time the score didn't necessarily reflect the game. We have a lot of self-belief coming into this game."