At 22, Caitlin Foord could already be considered one of Australia’s greatest ever Matildas.
The Shellharbour product cemented her status among the best of her generation in the early hours of Thursday morning.after being named Asian Women’s Player of the Year.
Foord beat Australian teammate Lisa De Vanna and China's Tan Ruyin to capture the crown at the Asian Football Confederation Annual Awards in Abu Dhabi.
The accolade comes five years after she was named Asian Young Women’s Player of the Year just weeks after turning 17.
It came on the back of a stellar display at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup where Foord was named Best Young Player at the tournament at the age of just 16.
A versatile winger, Foord appeared at her second World Cup last year before playing a major role in the Matildas Rio Olympic campaign in 2016.
She was a standout player in the national team’s run to the quarter finals in Brazil where they were tragically bundled out in a penalty shootout by the host nation.
The performance paved the way for Foord to be announced as Asia’s best player in 2016. The award came as a shock to the South Coast talent.
“I wasn’t expecting this,” Foord, who plays for Sydney FC in the W-League, said.
“Thank you to the AFC and congratulations to everyone in Abu Dhabi for hosting this wonderful event.
“I accept this award on behalf of all the Matildas.
“Winning the AFC Youth Player of the Year award in 2011 was a massive achievement but of course winning this award is so much better.
“I would also like to congratulate the other nominees, Lisa and Tan, for an amazing year.”
Twelve months ago receiving such an award may have seemed highly unlikely to Foord as she raced the clock to recover from a broken collarbone in a bid to fit for the Matildas’ Rio qualifying campaign. However, the injury proved a blessing in disguise as Foord
“I think earlier on this year, I had broken my collar bone and was pushing to be back for the Olympic qualifiers. I had to be in the gym a lot to stay fit and I’m not normally one to be in the gym so I think that gave me an edge,” Foord explained to Sport360.
“I was stronger when I got out on the pitch and I really noticed it within my game.”
Foord is just the third Australian women’s player to win the award.
Kate Gill was the first to win the award in 2010 before Brisbane Roar star Katrina Gorry (2014) followed suit.
Australian referees Kate Jacewicz and Renae Coghill also received recognition with the 2016 AFC Referees Special Award after working the final of the 2016 FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup.
UAE midfielder Omar Abdulrahman won the Men's Player of the Year after leading Al-Ain to the recent AFC Champions League final.
Men’s Coach of the Year went to South Korean Choi Kang-hee (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors) whie the women’s was given to Hong Kong’s Chan Yuen-ting (Hong Kong Eastern Sports).