IRELAND'S CHLOE Mustaki made her competitive debut for Ireland this weekend against Russia.
Although Ireland were defeated 1-0 in the semi-final in the Pinatar Cup, it was a special moment for Mustaki, who won Player of the Match.
The Shelbourne defender has had to overcome a myriad of problems to make her first Ireland start and described the emotion that came with the feat.
When she was 19, Mustaki was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of blood-cancer. She would then suffer a horrific ACL injury in March 2020 when the team were preparing for a game against Greece.
Chloe Mustaki is an inspirational person
She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, aged 19, a type of blood cancer
She also suffered an ACL injury two years ago
Thankfully, she recovered from both
Last night, Chloe made her Ireland debut and was player of the match
Wow 🇮🇪 pic.twitter.com/HWoxwf9eHW
— IP🇮🇪⚽️ (@IrishPropaganda) February 20, 2022
She's played in every age group for Ireland and was made to wait for two years for her senior bow because of these issues.
The 26-year-old, who was born in America in Ohio and raised in south Dublin spoke about how much it meant to her this weekend.
"Everyone came up to congratulate me after the game, and I think everyone knows how much it means to me,"
"Not just the ACL, but the lymphoma when I was younger as well. Finishing my under-19 career and then two weeks later being diagnosed with cancer. Coming back from that and then being so close to my first senior cap and then tearing my ACL.
"Emotionally everyone knew how much it meant to me. It was a strange feeling on the bus on the way back to the hotel, reading messages on my phone from family, friends and everyone around me.
"Knowing how much it meant to me and congratulating me for sticking to it. I'll probably think back to last night for a long time.
"It was a night and day to remember," she added.
Under Vera Pauw Ireland's women's team are on the verge of a play-offs for a major tournament, this hasn't happened since 2008.
Ireland sit second in the group and play Finland and will then play Slovakia, this will be preceded with trips to Gothenburg to play the group leaders the Swedes, followed by an away date with Georgia.
Mustaki has earmarked the games and wants to increase her cap tally after she comes down from cloud nine.
"I'll probably think back to last night for a long time," she said.
"I am really proud of myself and I don't really pat myself on the back too much but I definitely can after last night. I need to focus on being happy where I'm at.
"As competitive individuals we always strive for the next step. I'd have torn someone's arm off if they told me six months ago that I'd be having my first international cap.
"I absolutely want to be in every single camp over the next year and a half as we prepare for the World Cup, but I have to be proud of how far I've come.
"Seven months ago I was struggling to get through training sessions, pain free, with Shels. I'll do my best to be involved but there are so many talented players involved at the moment.
"If I'm in [the squad] in April, great, if not, I'll aim for the next camp."
Ireland play Wales tomorrow at 2.30.