Renaye Iserief played 30 games for her country but none on home soil.
The Matildas pioneer - cap 26 - paid to represent Australia, sewed the coat of arms onto her own tracksuit and there was no such thing as a Women's World Cup.
Iserief was lucky to even be able to play the game she loved.
So, with the FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia just 38 days away, Iserief could barely contain her excitement upon unveiling the original trophy at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility on Sunday.
It was part of the final leg of a worldwide trophy tour, which had already made 30 international stops.
"It's pretty amazing, to see it now," Iserief told the Newcastle Herald.
"When I played, back in the day, this wasn't even a thing. There wasn't a Women's World Cup in sight when I started.
"So, to see it here now and the part that I unknowingly played back then in making this happen, that's pretty cool. That's how I see it - we were part of the legacy and the pioneers that actually helped bring this here."
For Tracie McGovern - Matildas cap 102 - getting up close and personal with the World Cup trophy meant "everything".
"For all of the players who have come before, I don't even know if we would have dreamt that this could have happened in Australia," McGovern said.
"This is just going to be the best thing ever and quite spectacular. It will be the biggest women's sporting event in Australia, so it doesn't get better than that."
Iserief, who grew up at Budgewoi on the Central Coast but has called Newcastle home for some time, and McGovern, who hails from Wauchope but is now based in Charlestown, are among many players who have made sacrifices to pave the way for what Australia's women's football at the elite level looks like now.
That is the ability to be professional with a full-time focus on football, playing in the best league's in the world and on July 20 at Stadium Australia stepping out on home soil in front of over 80,000 spectators for their World Cup opener against Republic of Ireland.
Iserief grew up across the road from the Budgewoi soccer fields. There, she trained with her brothers but was not allowed to play until the club entered a women's team into the Central Coast competition.
Even then, she had to beg to play. The year was 1977 and she was 13. By 1983, Iserief was debuting for Australia.
"We weren't Matildas," she said. "We didn't have a name. Australia women's soccer team. It was mocked a little bit.
"We were the Soccerettes. We were the Soccer Shes. We were everything bar taken seriously, probably.
"I never got to play in front of a home crowd. All of my games were overseas, never here. It just was new I guess.
"I got selected to go to the pilot World Cup in '88 but I had an injury that ended my football career. That was the first fully paid tournament.
"Prior to that we pretty much paid for our flights, our tracksuits, our gear. We met at Sydney airport for one of our tours overseas and we bought our gear, we tried it on in the changerooms then got handed our coat of arms badge and we had to stitch that on.
"That is just the start of the history that is not known and the sacrifices that were made. But I would go back and do it all again in a heartbeat, even knowing where we are now. I would be really proud that I was part of that journey, part of the foundation that actually started it all."
Northern NSW Football chief executive Peter Haynes said these days around 28 per cent of participation for the region was female and, as the game continued to grow, emphasised the need to recognise those who had helped that happen.
"I don't think I'm speaking out of turn to say the game probably hasn't done that as well as it could have," Haynes said.
"So we're really looking forward to having more of those conversations and to connect our past with our future. That's so important, to put this whole story of the Matildas and women's football into perspective because it hasn't always been like it is at the moment.
"We're so lucky to have our Matildas and hold them up on a pedestal, but it's the foundations that are built on that are just as important."
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