The lure of Champions League football has seen one of the standout players of this W-League season set to depart for Sweden.
Dylan Holmes, United captain, has become the first female Adelaide United player to be sold for a transfer fee as the club accepted an offer of an undisclosed fee from BK Häken.
Holmes, 23, has been an integral part of an Adelaide United side that has transformed its fortunes this season, sitting in third place with just three games to go in the regular season.
The Reds have never made the finals and Holmes believes that although their success this season made the decision to leave the club even harder, the club still stands in good stead to break the drought.
“It was definitely the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make,” Holmes admitted.
“It was really hard especially because we’ve been doing so well this year but I have full faith in the girls that they can get it done once I’m gone.
“The offer was, I think in the end, just too good to pass up and the long-term benefits of me going I think will be really big.”
BK Häken is the reigning champion of the Swedish First Division and is based in the city of Gothenburg, where Holmes will be living for the foreseeable future.
Prior to last year it had never won the division but managed to win the Swedish cup competition in 2019, meaning its current side is stacked with quality, something that Holmes will relish.
“I don’t know a whole lot about the city but I’ve heard some really good things,” Holmes said.
“The team won the first division last year so I know I’ll be coming into a really strong squad with a really amazing coach and good facilities so I’m really excited and ready to test myself.”
The move itself is one that speaks volumes of how much hard work has gone into the development of the Adelaide United women’s program over the past few years.
The man at the centre of this improvement is Head of Women’s Football, Ivan Karlović, who was the coach of the W-League side in 2017 before stepping into his current position late last year.
Karlović stressed that although the disappointment of losing such a quality player is obviously there, the move is one that is highly beneficial for all parties and a sign of how far the club has come.
“(Bittersweet) That’s probably the word we used in and around the playing group and staff,” Karlović said.
“It is bittersweet because we’re obviously sad to lose a player like Dylan but at the same time, we’re delighted because it’s what we stand for as a football club, giving young females an opportunity here and progressing into bigger and better things and into stronger leagues.
“I can’t see why there can’t be other players following in her footsteps.
“Dylan’s almost a pioneer now for us as a club and a role model for some of her younger teammates that they can all do it.
“If they put in the work that Dylan has over the years then I can’t see why they can’t make the same move as her.”
As well praising their ability on the pitch, Holmes credited her teammates for their support across the journey as well as with this decision and detailed how tough it was to say goodbye.
“Some of the girls that I’ve known for a really long time and are some of my really close friends I told pretty early, but I told the group last night at training,” she said.
“I’m just really lucky that I have such a supportive team and I think it was a bittersweet moment.
“I think everybody understands why I need to go and it’s just unfortunate that I can’t be here for the end of the season.
“I’m really lucky to have to have such a special team to captain.”
Holmes will make her final appearance in a red jersey this Saturday as United welcome table-topping Sydney FC in a match that will be crucial in dictating their finals chances.
Whilst it’s confirmed that Holmes won’t play a part in the remainder of the season following Saturday’s clash, she refuses to rule out a return to Adelaide at a later date.
“My life for the last few years has revolved around trying to be the best that I can to play for Adelaide united,” she said.
“Hopefully one day I can come back and still play for united if the seasons line up.
“I’ve signed a one-year deal with an option for a second year I believe so hopefully, if it lines up with the W-League, I would love to come back and play in the Swedish off-season.
“I’d definitely love to be back in Adelaide next year.”