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From Lobo Soccer Great to West Ham United: Checking in on Zaneta Wyne

by Alma Solis

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – After finishing up her collegiate soccer career at UNM in 2011, Zaneta Wyne decided to go professional and made many stops before landing at West Ham United in 2021.

Wyne made a huge impact on the Lobo soccer program as she was a part of the 2011 Mountain West Champions her senior year, starting in all 21 games and accounting for 1403 minutes played. She carved out her spot in the program’s all-time career record book as she still sits in fifth for most games played (50) and 10th in most goals (13) more than ten years after graduating. She also earned All-Mountain West Second Team in 2011, as well as Mountain West All-Tournament Team in 2009 and 2010. Off the field, Wyne was named to the MW All-Academic Team in 2008, 2010 and 2011.

After graduating from UNM, Wyne had strong desires to go professional and briefly played for the San Diego SeaLions. As the women’s league in the states folded, she had to think outside of the box… or outside of the country. Wyne and former Lobo teammate Amanda Collins decided to take initiative to find that next opportunity overseas.

“Her and I just thought: Why don’t we email a bunch of different teams on the UEFA League’s Champion site?”

Collins got an email back from a Finnish team, but unfortunately, she had sustained an injury a couple weeks before. Collins advocated for Wyne to be looked at by the team and then created the first opportunity for Wyne.

“At first, it was just honestly like why not try it, there’s nothing to lose,” Wyne said of the start of her journey overseas. “Then, you meet the right people, you get an agent and you realize there’s actually a lot more teams and opportunities than I thought.”

She was only with GBK Kokkola in Finland, before moving on to Víkingur Ólafsvík, a team in Iceland where she made 16 appearances and scored three goals in 2014. She then moved to Cyprus to join the Apollon Ladies FC, where she had the opportunity to play in the UEFA Women’s Champions League.  Wyne. After this, she played two seasons in Iceland for Þór/KA in 2016 and 2017. Between those two seasons, she briefly returned to the United States to play for the Atlanta Silverbacks.

The Newport Beach, Calif., native then got her first experience in the Football Association Women’s Super League (FA WSL) in 2017-18 when she found her way onto the Sunderland club. She joined Klepp IL in Scandinavia in 2019, before making her last stop in 2020-21 at Glasgow City.

This long journey brought her to land at her current club, West Ham United in 2021. Back in the FA WSL after a few years to compete with some of the best athletes in the world.

Zaneta on her experience at West Ham United so far: “I really enjoy how competitive this league is. I really enjoy playing here. Every place has its own things that I really loved about it, but I think in terms of what I’m looking for in my career, here is the one I’ve enjoyed the most.”

Wyne learned many lessons in her time at UNM that still help her excel in her career today, including time management and resilience.

On learning time management: “Being able to balance what is basically a full-time job [in being a student-athlete] and also maintain your education, which is allowing you to play this full-time job.”

On resilience: “We were always kind of playing from the bottom. We weren’t really expected to win the league and we weren’t really expected to make it to the NCAA’s. Even though things aren’t necessarily given to you, you can still perform and I think that’s something that I carry throughout my entire career. I just have no expectation of anything to be given to me and I’m going to have to work for everything that I want in my career.”

Going in without expectations and be open to anything is the biggest piece of advice Wyne has for those who want to go into professional soccer overseas.

“Go in without expectation and see where you’re at,” Wyne advised. “Then, from there you can set your goals. See where you can make progress and kind of be an open template.”

She also says that if anyone has doubts to go for those professional opportunities, don’t let that stop them for going what they want.

“If anyone wants to go professional and they have doubts and they just see closed doors everywhere, keep pushing,” Wyne said. “Keep trying to find your way because I think sometimes people give up too easily.”

“So just try to exhaust your resources,” she continued. “You can’t get into this league, find another one. This person doesn’t want to help, find another person. Don’t just take one no as the only answer.”

Zaneta Wyne and West Ham United women’s team face off against Reading, back in Barclay’s FA WSL action after a Vitality Women’s FA Cup semi-final loss to Manchester City.

After her professional playing days come to an end, years from now, Wyne expresses interest in staying in the sport in another way and pursuing coaching.

To keep up with Lobo soccer, follow @UNMLoboWSoccer on Twitter and Instagram.