Aussie soccer stars go ahead in London

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Arsenal women’s defender Steph Catley and Wembley-linked Sutton United goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis are writing their own footballing fairy tales – on and off the pitch.

Romance blossomed between the pair in 2017 when the two were on the Melbourne City books.

Dean then joined Steph in the UK three months after the Matildas star signed for Women’s Super League club Arsenal in 2020, each pushing the other to new heights since.

There’s no escaping the football banter, analysis and sage advice at the Catley-Bouzanis house in the picturesque town of St Albans, Hertfordshire, a short drive from the base. Arsenal training.

After games, they often single out each other’s performances with the narrative of the relentless football.

Giving insight into the dynamic of their relationship, Catley told beIN SPORTS: “I think there’s a really good balance, while football is obviously there 24/7.

“We try to disconnect and relax when we can, but it’s good when he watches my games, I’ll get a truthful expert opinion from him when I step off the pitch.

“It’s the same with him with me, although I’m not really an expert goalkeeper, so I try to keep my mouth shut.

“Anyway, it’s been working really well and it’s really nice to have his constant support to get home every day. We have a nice little life here in the UK.

“Wise things in football are great and things off the pitch are great.”

After an injury riddled first season at WSL leaders Arsenal, 28-year-old Catley is on the rise. Arsenal faced Wolfsburg in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals on the night and are also in the FA Cup semi-final against Sam Kerr’s Chelsea.

Not to be outdone, Bouzanis, 31, was newly promoted Sutton’s penalty shootout savior – with two key saves and a goal himself – as the south London minnow overcame Wigan to book a EFL Trophy final place against League One leaders Rotherham at Wembley.

The U’s are flying in the league, just four points off an automatic promotion spot in their first season in the EFL.

This is not Bouzanis’ first rodeo in the UK. He was once a hot prospect in Liverpool’s junior ranks under Gerrard Houllier.

But the breakthrough never came and he continued to bounce back in the lower divisions with spells also in Greece and the Netherlands.

He returned to Australia with Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne City before out-of-league Sutton called a career move many thought was eccentric.

Bouzanis knew better.

His consistency between the sticks was crucial to Sutton’s elevation to the EFL for the first time in their history.

He has 13 clean sheets in 36 games this season, underscoring what an inspired signing he has been under coach Matt Gray.

“It means a lot to us to have Wembley on the horizon (for the first time in 41 years) and we love each other for sure,” Bouzanis said. “It’s an honor for everyone at the club where we are at the moment.

“We’re also with an automatic promotion shoutout, and there’s a really good buzz around the place.”

Catley can’t hide her joy at the success of her other half.

“I’m very proud of what he’s accomplished,” she said. “When he came to the UK he took the risk of leaving the A-League and joining a lower league club here.

“He didn’t really know what to expect – so he took a gamble on us being together in Europe and it’s more than paid off for him.

“He’s played so many games and he’s done so well, and now he has Wembley to look forward to. I’m so happy for him.

Dean returns the favor, praising Catley for digging deep to overcome calf issues and then undergoing hamstring surgery which turned his first season at Arsenal into a lingering nightmare.

“Steph is enjoying her football now after working very hard to get back into shape after those setbacks, and deserves all the accolades she is receiving at the moment,” he said.

“We are always there for each other and we feed each other. Being together has always been a huge priority for us, playing our football and being settled off the pitch.

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