ALI SIGNS WITH MALMÖ
FOR 2 MORE YEARS
|read original article in Swedish|
"Malmo feels like home and the team is my family"
Malmo (Google translation)
She grew up in sunny California, is an experienced international for New Zealand - and has found "home" in Malmö.
LDB FC Malmö Alexandra "Ali" Riley talks about why she loves her new hometown, and how it was actually a pure lyckochansning she ended up right here.
- I could have ended up in Piteå! she says, laughing.
It was the spring of 2012, the American professional league for women had been canceled for the second time. Alexandra "Ali" Riley had won the 2011 series with the Western New York Flash, along with among others, Caroline Seger and Marta, and was set to be another season for the club.
- Suddenly one day we stood there without a job. Hundreds of players needed new teams but most transfer window had already closed.
She went to Germany to test train with Duisburg in a month but could not sign a contract until August, and then it was time for the Olympics and Riley did not have time before then.
There and then she got by Caroline Seger told that a team in Sweden needed a wing after Frida Nordin damaged. It became opening.
- Erling [Nilsson, elite responsible in LDB FC Malmö] picked me up at Heathrow and drove me across the bridge to Malmö. And now I'll be here for four years, it's crazy.
So you did not know about Sweden and Swedish football?
- The first contact I had was with Caroline Seger in New York, she always talked about chocolate balls and crisp but I never understood what she meant. And no, if the league did not know anything.
- I took a chance and trusted Seger. And it turned out really good, but it's just luck. That I ended up here in southern Sweden, it suited me coming from sunny California.
She grew up in Los Angeles with a football mad dad from New Zealand and an American mother.
- In Southern California plays all kids soccer dad was the coach and I was five when I started playing in a mixed team of boys and girls. I was doing gymnastics and tennis, too, but I loved being on a team and all my friends were playing.
There was another source of inspiration that she fell for football: the U.S. national team and the World Cup at home in 1999, when Riley would fill twelve. The final between the U.S. and China were played in California before 90,000 spectators. Riley was obviously in place.
- It was so incredibly great, Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and all superstars. It just blossomed in the media and then I decided that I would one day become Mia Hamm and play an OS.
She continued to play in school teams and college football for the prestigious Stanford University was known for its talented football team.
- I was not a big name in school or so, but the last year of high school, I got the chance to play for New Zealand and then I could start at Stanford.
She has dual citizenship because her father is from New Zealand and she has since 2007 been a vital cog in the national team.
But you've never lived there?
- No, but Dad has his family in Christchurch, so we have been going there on holiday every year. I knew it and loved it but now I have been there, although it has mostly been in Auckland for training.
From college football, she went to the pro league and a team on the outskirts of San Francisco. A team that was shut down after one season due to financial problems. Riley found another top team in New York and thought the problems were over. Until the entire league was canceled.
- It was really tough. I felt that I found the most amazing team in New York with all super players and great audience. It was like a dream, and then put the entire league down - it was so heartbreaking.
Now she has been to Malmo in a year and a half and she seems to really thrive. This week she wrote on for another two years in LDB FC Malmö, as well as in fourteen fights on winning the gold medal against top competitor Tyreso.
- Sure, it was very heavy that we missed the gold last year, but when I look back, it was still an amazing trip. From losing your job in a day, leaving my family and my friends and just come here to profit and loss. Now I feel Malmo at home and the team as my family. Every day I think: "oh, I just need to play football today, then I can do whatever I want in this great city."
The feeling right now in the headlines?
- It is so exciting. As soon as the series ended last year so we just wanted to get going again right away. It's so great that we have almost exactly the same squad that goes for the gold again.
There is a lot of talk about taking one game at a time, how easy is it to think so anyway?
- I think we learned a lot about it last year. And now, when we went to Gothenburg after the victory against Tyreso so everyone was fully focused on the match. I think the first half was the best football I've ever been through and played, not because I had to do so much, haha.
LDB FC Malmö won the last match away against Kopparberg / Göteborg 5-0 after 4-0 at halftime.