The defensive midfielder left her job and her family back home to chase a dream inspired by the USWNTs 1999 World Cup-winning side

Usually, when you glance up at the jumbotron during a game at the Johan Cruyff Stadium, home of Barcelona’s all-conquering women’s team, the list of goalscorers almost exclusively features the names of the European champions biggest stars.

Ballon d’Or Feminin winner Alexia Putellas has netted 14 times at the venue this season. UEFA and FIFA’s 2017 Player of Year Lieke Martens has hit 10 goals. Jenni Hermoso, the all-time leading goalscorer for Barca and Spain, has six.

In October, though, for 11 minutes, there was just a single name on the board – and it was on the away team’s side.

It remains the only time a team has taken the lead against Barcelona this season and it was the first goal they’d conceded in the 2021-22 campaign.

The name up there? That of Jordan Clark, a 32-year-old playing her third match as a professional footballer.

In the end, Barca would emerge victorious against Deportivo Alaves, winning 9-1.

When the full-time whistle went, Clark looked up at the electronic scoreboard. She was outnumbered by that stage, but she was still there.

“I saw my name and took it in that Im in their stadium, on that field and had that kind of moment… All of that just kind of hits you in a wave,” Clark tells GOAL.

“Everything Ive fought for and had blood, sweat and tears for on the way over here, for it to lead to something like that, scoring against the best team in the world, and being the first in the season to do so, is just insane.”

17⏱ | 0-1⚽️ ¡¡Gol gol gol de Clark!!#BarcaAlaves #GoazenGloriosas ???? pic.twitter.com/sbcFlRGngz

Two months before that goal, she had landed in Vienna on her 32nd birthday to chase her dream of being a professional footballer.

Achieving that ambition has been difficult. When Clark graduated from college in the United States, the countrys top league had folded, so there wasn’t a college draft to enter.

An opportunity in Germany didn’t turn out to be the springboard she’d have hoped.

Clark returned home and went to as many trials as she could afford for several years, but it’s a demanding process, particularly while she was trying to keep her and her fiance financially stable as he worked his way towards being a pilot.

In April last year, she was settled into a full-time job and had bought a house with her partner.

Then, in August, an opportunity to go to Europe and chase that dream presented itself again. Clark threw herself into it.

“This is just something thats been burning out of me since I can remember,” she says, noting the “massive impact” the United States’ iconic 1999 World Cup-winning side had on her desire to become a professional player.

“I grew up following Michelle Akers, Mia Hamm, and that definitely sparked a ton of inspiration. That was absolutely where I think I got my drive from.

“I dont even know if I knew that there was really a pro league. I was just like, I want to do what theyre doing. Thats super cool.”

She left a family holiday to fly to Austria and, after impressing in a trial that included a game against Bayern Munich, the feedback was pointing towards a contract.

“Unfortunately, in the end, it came down to it being complicated with a foreign transfer from the U.S. and some budget issues,” Clark says.

“To me, it was looking like, Yes, yes, yes! I thought for sure it was going to be a go. Then, at the last second, it was like, Oh, no!”

Clark was stuck in Vienna. Sola Abolaji, a former pro himself, was putting feelers out for another trial while she stayed with his friend, but things weren’t looking good.

Last week we got you the fantastic story of Clark who with help from CMG @emasar3 gets to live her dream , playing in the Spanish league. Now the girl just scored a goal! Against Barcelona! This is a true fairytale. pic.twitter.com/FOgZveQRyR

“I was on the phone with Sola and he was like: I have called everyone. The transfer window is narrowing, our timeline is closing. Ive tried, theres just nothing out there right now. I think its going to have to be time to go home,” Clark remembers.

“He said those words, and I kid you not, hes like, Hang on, Im getting a call right now. I have to take this.”

On the other end of the phone was Ella Masar, a former U.S. international who played for Paris Saint-Germain, the Chicago Red Stars and the Houston Dash, among others, before moving into player representation.

She knew of an opportunity with Madrid CFF, the team that finished seventh in Spain’s top flight last season. They wanted a defensive midfielder, Clark’s position.

She flew straight to Spain but, to her surprise, found herself playing at full-back in a trial match against Real Madrid.

Despite it going well, the club realised they needed to fill that position instead.

“I didnt actually have anything in the wind for after that,” she recalls. “They even asked me, What are you going to do now? Im like, I dont know. I have no idea.”

Masar kept “working her magic” though and Clark was on her way to Alaves within two days. It was there she would finally get her break – a reward for never giving up, thousands of miles from home.

It’s been going very well, too. The newly-promoted team are tenth in the league, well clear of any sort of danger, and were at one point just six points off a Champions League spot.

There’s clear ambition within the club when it comes to the womens team and performances are encouraging.

In a way, it makes sense that Clark ended up with this team, their underdog statuses aligned perfectly via a crazy path. They both possess ambition beyond what people may expect, too.

“I would love to battle for a Champions League place if we can make that happen,” Clark says.

“Ive never known if I was going to get this opportunity, but I want to see where Im capable of going in the time that I have left.

“Im not even sure of the potential but I would like to make it as high as I can. Playing in a Champions League game, at some point in my career, would be just phenomenal.

“Ive known that this is always what I wanted. As much as you still question after hearing no, after no, after no, I felt deep down like it was something I could do. That I had the capability, if I was just given a real shot.”

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