Having decided to bring down the curtain on a stellar Matildas career, Collette McCallum goes 1v1 with the PFA to discuss competing against the best in the world, the challenges and why the potential of the Matildas is enourmous.

Q. You made the decision to retire from the Matildas whilst you were away during the recent camp in Europe; had it been something you had been thinking about for a while?

CM: To be honest after the W-League in December I wasn’t 100 per cent sure that I would be able to get into a Matildas camp and do all the training. I spoke to Staj (Alen Stajcic, Matildas Head Coach) and he said ‘lets see how it goes.’ At the start of the year it was going really well, I was getting fitter and doing all the right things and made it through to the latest camp. I thought if I could make it through this camp I would be ok, but with the training load and being away it didn’t work out that way. I had a training session and my right knee started playing up because I was over compensating for my left knee and that become a struggle. Because of that it made me think this is it, I’m going finish.

Q. Was it hard to make that decision?

CM: At the end of the day I was very content with the decision. It is not really disappointing for me because I have been to two World Cups and that is a fantastic achievement and my mindset was that if I got to a third one it would be a bonus. The more I thought about it was right, the girls have gotten so much fitter and stronger and the intensity of the game has just gone up another level and unfortunately I just couldn’t play at that level anymore for 90 minutes.

Q. Two World Cup Finals, two U20 World Cup Finals and the 2011 Asian Cup triumph; your career has been truly stellar but what stands out the most for you?

CM: It has been an amazing experience being with the National Team playing all around the world against the best countries. Even without big tournaments these are the things you dream of as a kid but the two World Cups were amazing. The one in Germany was brilliant; the atmosphere was great in every game. China was a different atmosphere; I was only 20 at the time but absolutely loved it and took everything in. But the main highlight for me was scoring against Canada in the World Cup to get us through to the next round for the Quarter finals.

In club football I was lucky to play in America and in England. In America with Sky Blue winning the league was amazing and I think the only Australian’s to have done that are myself and Julie Murray.

Q. Having played in America, which is regarded by most as the best women’s league in the world, I imagine you got sense of just how important that league is for their National Team and their success. How important is the W-League to the Matildas success?

CM: The W-League is hugely important not only for the current Matildas but for the younger players coming through. To improve the W-League we need to attract more international players as that will help to promote the league and will also help improve the standard. The reason why the American league is doing so well is the finances behind it. We don’t have those same finances but we need to keep working to improve that area as the W-League is so important for the National Team and any future success.

Q. Many of your current and former teammates regard you as the best technical player to have played for the Matildas; how did develop your technique to such a high level?

CM: It started at a very age for me. Once you are older it is hard to break habits. I was practicing from such a young age as much as I could and that made it easier. For some of the girls they start a bit later and it can then be hard, as we have to juggle work and study as well as training. With the Matildas now you can tell that technically we are getting a lot better. In the past when I was younger it was more about hard work but now there are so many players that are technically gifted.

Q. With the emergence of many more technically gifted players how bright is the future for the Matildas?

CM: The likes of Emily van Egmond, Sam Kerr and Teigen Allen were at the last World Cup and they were 17 and now they have that experience and I don’t think they will be as nervous this time round. This squad is quite young and you even think about the World Cup after Canada and if they keep going they could be very dangerous.

Q. Finally, how do we are ensure the Matildas can challenge and compete with the best nations in the world?

CM: I think the development of players is getting a lot better. But I think the girls need to be able to get away and play overseas as I think that is really important for their development and I think we need to help them to be able to do this more easily. From the time that I started there has been a huge positive change and I think there is potential to get better and better.

Each week the PFA will go 1v1 with a member to gain an insight into the lives of footballers on and off the pitch.