THE impending arrival in Glasgow of South African captain Janine van Wyk continues a remarkable footballing journey. The central defender has signed not just for next month’s Champions League quarter final against Wolfsburg, but also the 2020-21 season.

With 170 caps and counting, Van Wyk has played more international games than any other footballer in her country. She will nevertheless have to defer in her new environment to Jo Love, who has 191. Throw in Leanne Ross and Glasgow City have three players with almost 500 caps between them.

Van Wyk, who is 33, is the youngest of this formidable trio. As with all players in their 30s in Scotland and South Africa, there were no football academies when she growing up near Johannesburg.

Nor were boys teams willing to accommodate her, so she travelled to join a township team called Springs Home Sweepers. Even then, she was the only white girl and by her own account an object of curiosity.

Such experiences instil a determination and inner toughness which are not always found in those who graduate from elite youth environments. They also led to Van Wyk starting a club of her own in 2013.

“JVW Football Club was established with the aim and vision of providing a platform for young talented female players to receive high-level training and develop into great footballers for the national team or international clubs,” she told me.

“It has been a great success so far with the limited resources available to us. We have a couple of girls representing the national team at junior level, and eight or nine current or former senior national team players.

“My ambition is for JVW to be recognised around the world as one of South Africa’s best female clubs – and for the players to get signed by professional clubs abroad, which I believe will soon become a reality.”

In that respect Van Wyk may learn as much from Glasgow City – founded in 1998 with similar aims – as their younger players learn from her. She has fully recovered from the MCL knee injury which cut short her previous contract at Fortuna Hjorring and can’t wait to get going.

As Scotland did, South Africa qualified for their first World Cup last summer. A 2-0 win over Mali in the African Nations Cup semi-final did the trick, and while the tournament itself brought defeats to Spain, China and Germany, the memories are bright.

“It was absolutely incredible,” the defender confirmed. “The experience was most certainly the highlight of my overall career and a dream come true. Any athlete would want to represent their country at the highest level possible, and I am proud to say I did just that.”

Vera Pauw is a further common denominator. The Scotland head coach from 1998-2004 and now with the Republic of Ireland, Pauw had a similar role with Banyana Banyana in 2014-16.

“Vera played a huge role in the growth of women’s football in South Africa,” Van Wyk pointed out. “She changed the image of the game in our country – and opened and broadened our eyes and minds with her knowledge and insights.

“As players we feel that part of our success over the last couple of years was the work of Vera.”

Following the World Cup a number of South African players moved to European countries, including France, Spain, Italy and Portugal. Signing for City allows Van Wyk, who has also played for Houston Dash, to achieve one of her remaining ambitions – Champions League football.

AT the same time as Glasgow City unveiled their signing on Tuesday, Hearts and Rangers broke the news that Kevin Murphy was leaving the former to return to the latter.

Murphy, who was head coach and academy manager at Rangers from 2016-18, will now be assistant to Malky Thomson and head up the academy. It means Hearts are looking for a manager for their SWPL1 side.

While the level of investment going into the Rangers women’s squad is unsurpassed, Hearts, for their part, say their commitment to the women’s team and programme remains intact despite the considerable problems the club is facing.

IN an unrelated development, former Hibernian head coach Grant Scott, who was also previously at Hearts, has stepped back from his role as assistant to Scott Booth at Glasgow City.

He did so because of conflicting day job commitments. However, and although the role Murphy has vacated is more encompassing than just first team manager, the prospect of a full time post at a top club must be enticing.