On the verge of greatness

PERHAPS the biggest burden placed on a professional athlete is life away from the spotlight.

Removed from the fanfare, the training sessions and the euphoria of hard-fought victories, where sometimes self-doubt can creep in and vindication of the blood, sweat and tears is hard to come by.

It has been almost a decade since Julie Murray stepped away from playing professional football.

One of Australia's most decorated athletes, she reached highs that most people dream about.

Her dedication to football is on the cusp of perhaps her greatest accolade after being shortlisted to be named Australia's greatest ever footballer.

"I wouldn't say I consistently struggled but for many years I had to address some areas of my life that were obviously as a result of my retirement," Murray said.

"It's not until you take a back seat and have a look at how your life evolved and perhaps mentally and emotional I struggled but I have had amazing friends and family that are incredibly supportive."

The former striker is one of 10 football stars in contention to be named the best ever as part of an initiative from the Johnny Warren Football Foundation.

Other players nominated include Julie Dolan, Collette McCallum, Alison Foreman and fellow Sutherland Shire resident Heather Garriock.

Murray has called Cronulla home for the past decade.

"This isn't a validation but it makes me feel humbled and overwhelmed," Murray, 42, said.

Murray achieved it all in Australian football — from captaining Australian World Cup teams, being part of Olympic campaigns, to becoming the first Australian female player to play club football in the US.

There, while playing for San Jose CyberRays, she was named MVP in the team's championship win.

"When we qualified for our first World Cup in 1995 that was probably the most special," the senior security advisor said.

"The 1999 World Cup was unbelievable because I had been dropped and then was given the captaincy for the tournament."

St George-raised Tim Cahill is nominated to be included in Australia's greatest ever team and/or the best male footballer of all time. The other award is greatest manager/coach.

Murray still runs around for St Patricks FC Sutherland in the shire women's A competition alongside former Matilda Sunni Hughes.

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