West Ham Women’s captain Dagný Brynjarsdóttir had big dreams as a child – and she wasn’t going to let her nationality stop her.
With female icons harder to come by, she looked to the men’s game used two superstars as her guiding lights.
And the ex-Bayern Munich midfielder, who began her footballing career as a six-year-old in Iceland, wanted to reach the pinnacle of the game.
But not, as you might expect, in her homeland.
“My dream growing up was to be on the Men’s Portugal National Team,” she admitted.
“Brazilian Ronaldo and then later on Cristiano Ronaldo were my biggest idols.”
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But she expressed her regret that she had never had many female role models to look up to when she was beginning her career.
She said: “I didn’t really have any women’s idols growing up – but hopefully that has changed today.
“I know that has changed today.”
And she added: “I’m a bit jealous of the girls who are starting their professional careers now because there are so many opportunities football-wise, agency-wise, sponsorship-wise – it’s just like a different game!”
Brynjarsdóttir made the move to West Ham in 2021 from Selfoss and was named captain of the Women’s side at the start of the 2022/23 season, in which she led the team to a respectable eighth place finish.
But she then announced she would be absent for most of the 2023/24 season as she was expecting the birth of her second son.
And West Ham have had a less than desirable start to this WSL season without her, having now failed to win in their last ten home league matches.
After picking up an early season win over Brighton and a draw against Liverpool, they have since struggled to pick up momentum.
Their 5-0 loss at the hands of Manchester United was a low point and their most recent 3-2 loss to Aston Villa saw them cruelly denied a point by Rachel Daly’s 92nd-minute winner.
The side currently sit 11th out of 12th in the WSL table, only above Bristol City on goal difference – and they next face another difficult fixture away to Arsenal on Sunday 26 November.
The WSL table is equally tight at the top and Arsenal will be determined to take points from the Hammers as they trail leaders Chelsea by just three points.
Emma Hayes’ Blues have only dropped points in their 1-1 draw against Manchester City which saw Lioness Alex Greenwood controversially sent off for time-wasting.
The incident sparked discussion about the standard of refereeing and the lack of VAR in the WSL – and Brynjarsdóttir told talkSPORT she thought the addition of VAR would only ‘improve’ the league.
She said: “To be honest, at first when VAR came into football, I wasn’t a big fan.
“But I think now after we’ve had it for a few years… I just think in the end, the game, however it’s going to end, it’s fair.
“If I speak for myself, I think I could get a lot of penalties on corners and set plays if we have VAR as I get fouled a lot in the box!”
But West Ham manager Rehanne Skinner told talkSPORT there is one crucial obstacle that needs to be overcome before VAR in the WSL becomes a possibility.
She said: “The biggest thing is – right here, right now – the referees should absolutely be full-time as a first port of call, before we start talking about all these additional bits associated with VAR and goal-line technology.
“The amount of money that is invested in making that happen should be supported in actually having referees who are full-time because they’re the ones who are delivering in the games week in, week out.
“We’re still behind with that, which is poor to be honest at the moment.”