Lisa is among soccer's finest
IT was once said that Lisa Casagrande could become the 'Mark Viduka of women's soccer'.
The 31-year-old former Lismore resident actually appeared more times for her country than the celebrated Socceroos striker.
Casagrande represented Australia with the Matildas 64 times, compared to Viduka's 43 national team appearances.
While she retired from the sport in 2002, it's taken the powers-that-be seven years to finally award her first Test cap.
The cap was handed out at the 125-year anniversary dinner of Northern NSW Football recently where she was also named in the Northern NSW women's team of the era.
“It was fantastic to meet up with old friends,” Casagrande said.
“It was also really nice to be included in the team of the era.”
Casagrande was named as a midfielder in the Northern NSW side that also included Matildas great Cheryl Salisbury.
The former Goonellabah Hornet's career has been well documented.
Casagrande burst on to the scene as a 14-year-old prodigy and made her debut for Australia against Japan in 1994.
A further 63 caps followed including a Sydney Olympics appearance, while the midfielder also received a US college scholarship.
However, at the ripe old age of 22, Casagrande retired from the sport.
“No, I don't regret retiring at an early age,” she said from the Gold Coast where she runs a gold and silver bullion and jewellery store.
“I was fortunate that I started when I was younger so I had a lot of good years.”
Casagrande still keeps in contact with Matildas coach Tom Sermanni, the man who said she could become the Mark Viduka of women's soccer.
“I still talk to him and he tells me about the new players,” she said.
“I don't have anything to do with soccer now, though. I'm concentrating on my golf which I recently took up.”
While Casagrande was named in the women's team of the era, another well-known local product missed out on the men's team altogether.
Former Socceroo captain Craig Foster was a notable omission from the side, as was former Newcastle striker and now Alstonville resident Bruce Morrow.
However, the pair was in good company. Former Liverpool star Craig Johnston, who was brought up near Newcastle, was also omitted from the side as he never represented Australia, which was part of the selection criteria.
NNSW women's team of the era: Debra Bonshore, Bridgette Starr, Cheryl Salisbury, Lauren Colthorpe, Lisa Casagrande, Alison Forman, Shelley Youman, Danielle Small, Renaye Iserief, Kate Gill, Linda Hughes.
NNSW men's team of the era: Jim McNabb, Jack Evans, Col Curran, Kevin O'Neill, Jim Osborne, Bill Coolahan, Ray Baartz, Jack Hughes, Jim Wilkinson, Reg Date, Alan Johns.