Ode Fulutudilu: Banyana star on moving from Spain to Finland
Ode Fulutudilu has revealed her search for a new challenge inspired her return to Finland after a forgettable spell with Malaga in Spain.
The 29-year-old recently completed her switch to the Finish Naisten Liiga outfit Aland United, taking effect from January 2020.
Fulutudilu, who was part of Banyana Banyana's maiden appearance in this summer's Fifa Women's World Cup in France, parted ways with relegated Antonio Contreras' side in May 2019.
During her brief spell with Malaga, she started only three times in 10 appearances, scoring just once for the Primera Iberdrola outfit.
Despite her disappointing outing in Spain, the former Spurs Ladies star, who helped South Africa to a sixth Cosafa Women's Cup, admits to having no regrets.
"I took a lot from Spain and that is the experience and working hard in each training session," Fulutudilu told Goal.
"The training environment was really competitive which made me a better player. I’m also a better defender because a lot of defending was required from me which is something that was not easy for me as an attacker but it made it better.
"In the end, the paperwork was not possible for me to join them [other clubs]. [In terms of going to] other countries and leagues I did not feel like I would grow as teams were winning their leagues comfortably."
In 2018, the South Africa international excelled on her maiden professional move to Europe with ONS, scoring 15 goals in 22 outings for the Finish top-flight side before heading to Spain.
Having turned down offers, from Italy among others, Fulutudilu insists the hunger for the domestic success of Aland United endeared her to heading back to Finland.
"I wanted to go somewhere. There was a challenge, week in and week out. To be able to play for a team that was fighting for the league title and their desire of wanting me," she continued.
"Åland United is a great team that wants to challenge for things in Finland. I wanted to be in a competitive league and a team that was fighting for things at the top, so this was a great opportunity to go back and see how I can help the team fight for those things.
"I’m only looking to give my best and work hard to achieve things with the team that they have not achieved in a while. Whether that be closing the gap at the top or pushing for the league title."
Fulutudilu will consider her return to Finland a huge bargain in the quest to revive her fine form when she unites with her new teammates in January for the 2020/2021 season.