The story of Matildas forward Hayley Raso has been one heard many times over the last nine months.
It's been a story of resilience and a source of inspiration for those young fans who look up to the 24-year-old.
Raso broke three vertebrae in her back last August and after five months of recovery and rehabilitation, she made her return to the pitch for hometown side Brisbane Roar in January before going onto score in the following game.
From there she's gone on to fight for her spot in Ante Milicic's FIFA Women's World Cup squad.
In a story released by her NWSL club, Portland Thorns, on Wednesday, Raso speaks about how she overcame injury and heartbreak to be on that plane to France.
Her story starts in 2015 when four years after her W-League debut, she didn't see a single minute of game time in Canada. Despite this, with 13 Matildas caps to her name, she was headed to the United States to play with Washington Spirit in the NWSL however, this is where the first heartbreak would happen.
Spirit changed coaches as Mark Parsons, who had brought her to the club, stepped down from his position and was replaced by Jim Gabarra just two months after Raso made her debut. Under the new coach, Raso didn't see any game time and by April 2016, she was waived from the squad.
“It was hard. It was really hard,” she said.
“At the time I thought, ‘Well, I’m just going to go home. What am I going to do?’ You don't really know.”
“You’re in a place, and you think you’re comfortable in that place and that's where you want to be. So then to hear you're not going to continue on in your club team. I wondered what would I do, or where would I go? Where would I play or would I keep playing? If I don't have a team, what do I do?”
At the same time, she was dropped from the national team. It was an Olympic year and Raso was still searching for a new club in the USA but as they say, opportunities pop up in interesting ways.
Parsons, who was now the head coach at Portlands Thorns, handed her a lifeline in 2016.
“I was in this place of doubt and wondering, where is my soccer career going to go now? Mark gave me that second chance, so I just grabbed it with both hands,” Raso said.
By the end of her season with Thorns, she was competing for a starting XI spot but on the other side of that, she had reclaimed a spot in the national team. However, it was the following season that Raso truly shone.
She scored seven goals, which included her first NWSL goal, and went on to claim the league Championship but after the high of bringing home an NWSL title, she ran into a hurdle coming back to W-League.
Throughout the season, she dealt with left-knee problems and was heavily strapped most games but during the Asian Cup in April 2018, she suffered a partial tear in the Lateral Collateral Ligament on her right leg. The injury, while good it wasn't a complete tear which would've sidelined her for the majority of 2018, only put her out for the first 11 games of Portlands title defence season.
However, in a cruel twist of events, just 12 games after she made her comeback from that knee injury, Raso laid motionless on the field in a match against Spirit.
“I’d just come back from my knee,” she said.
“Finally got back. I don't even think I played that many games and then my back.”
While the diagnosis for a non-displaced fracture of the transverse processes of L2, L3 and L4, is six to eight weeks, it was the mental side of the injury which was the hardest to overcome the Gold Coast local said.
“It was really hard for me obviously not really being able to walk but then the mental side of it of thinking I actually don't think I'll be able to get back up so, to be here, sitting here playing again, it's exciting for me to look at the place I was in and then to be here now," she said.
Her resilience to come back from a serious injury came down to a couple of things. One being her never give up attitude but also her determination to be part of the World Cup squad.
“The whole time I was in hospital or rehabbing, I was thinking, ‘I want to be back with my national team, I want to go to this World Cup'. That's why I'm coming back."
While some people out there may doubt her, Raso has been awarded for her effort, ability and passion by being included in Milici's 23-player squad.
“I just want them to know that I've made it and I've reached my dream. To play it the World Cup. To play minutes. To overcome everything," she said.