In 2021, Ellie Carpenter suffered a devastating injury. She says it was a 'blessing'.

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There's a hidden 'club' in women's football. And it's one nobody wants to join.

The ACL club.

One of the main ligaments responsible for stabilising your knee, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are something of an epidemic in women's football. 

Statistics show women are two to 10 times more likely to experience an ACL injury than men — which is... huge.

And the Matildas' defender Ellie Carpenter is part of this statistic.

Watch: Watch the trailer for Matildas The World At Our Feet. Story continues after post. 

Video via Disney

For most, the injury can be career-ending. And the chance of re-injury is significant.

However, following eight months of rehabilitation, 22-year-old Carpenter said tearing her ACL back in 2022 actually benefited her performance.

In fact, speaking with Forbes, Carpenter said her ACL injury may have been "a blessing in disguise".

"Honestly, I think it was the best thing that's happened to me. I really needed this break. I was very fatigued, I've played a lot — a lot — of football in the last year and a half. I was just on the verge of burnt out really."

"The injury came and obviously it was disappointing, but at the same time, it was the perfect time for me to reset, get stronger, have a rest, have an off-season that I never really have had."


"I think I really, really needed it and I think I'm better from it. I think I'm more refreshed. I feel better on the pitch than ever before. As much as I never want a long-term injury, I think it was a blessing in disguise."

Carpenter joined French football club Olympique Lyonnais (known as Lyon) in 2020. 

In 2022, her team was crowned UEFA Women's Champions League winners against FC Barcelona — a game that saw her substituted with a suspected ACL tear, when she twisted awkwardly less than 15 minutes into the game.

The moment, which can be seen in The Matildas: The World at Our Feet documentary, shows the absolute gut-wrenching injury that puts a question mark on her ability to play during the World Cup.

However, for Carpenter, it was all in the mindset. She pushed through the emotions, celebrated the win with her team and went on to focus on her recovery.

"I did witness the goals, which was really nice, I was celebrating as much as everyone else. I didn't really think about my injury or my knee you know. I knew that was done, I knew I did something bad. I was just in the moment and celebrating with the team."

"People have come back stronger, people have come back better. I knew this was a time for me to work on myself. They kept saying 'you will come back stronger, you will love the game again more, you'll feel refreshed', I really felt that."


Carpenter entered the football scene at just 15 years old, playing for the Western Sydney Wanderers. She went on to play two Olympic Games, a World Cup and is the only Australian in history to win two Champions League medals.

On returning from injury, the Matildas player said it was an opportunity to take a break from football and give her body — and mind — rest.

Now, fighting for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup victory, Carpenter has never felt better.

"Having rehab every day, you build so much more muscle, physically as well, you're in the gym every day," she told Forbes.

"For me, I honestly feel stronger than before on the ball, on the field and faster as well, which is also really cool. I was kind of already fast, but I feel faster now, which is a good sign!"

The Matildas are set to play England in their semi-final clash on Wednesday, 16 August (8:00 pm AEST).

Image: Instagram/@elliecarpenterr.

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