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Rachel Corsie: Caps and goals don’t do justice to huge impact Kim Little has had on Scottish football and women’s sport

Kim Little in action for Scotland.
Kim Little in action for Scotland.

Kim Little has called time on her international career after spending an incredible 15 years playing for Scotland.

In that time, she has earned 140 caps and scored an incredible 56 goals, which for most players would be unimaginable totals.

However, numbers don’t do justice to the hard-to-quantify impact and influence Kim has had on Scottish football and Scottish women’s sport.

Kim is a player who has spent much of her career ahead of her time – she first moved to England to become a professional with Arsenal in 2008 while most of her peers, like me, were still paying subs to play at the highest club level in Scotland.

A year before, in 2007, she had pulled on a senior Scotland jersey for the first time, at the age of 16, which offered only a glimpse of what lay ahead.

The term β€œworld class” has perhaps lost some of its meaning, as it has been loosely brandished to describe player after player over the years, however, in this instance it is the only appropriate mark.

Her show-stopping abilities on the pitch have made Kim one of the most exciting players to watch on the planet and she has naturally been a favourite of growing number of Scotland Women’s National Team fans, who have been entertained by her silky skills and attacking prowess.

That larger-than-life ability on the park is balanced by a person who is mellow and level-headed away from the pitch. Kim has renowned for her ability to lead by example, and is the perfect professional (almost annoyingly) at all times – I wish there were more antics from over the years to share.

I grew up with Kim.

We first went head-to-head at the age of 11, when Hazlehead Under-13s faced Buchan Girls in a seven-a-side match in Mintlaw.

I have loads of memories of times we faced each other – countless games – without knowing we would go on to celebrate so many milestones together with Scotland, including the national team qualifying for the Euros and World Cup for the first time.

We have become close friends over many years, and sharing these experiences has been a privilege we speak of often.

Kim Little celebrates with team-mate Rachel Corsie having pulled a goal back for Scotland from the penalty spot against the Netherlands in 2014.

Kim’s achievements playing for the national team are remarkable and have been of paramount importance to the growth of the women’s game in Scotland.

Her standards are above most others and this has driven much of the shared desire of the national team to push for more and more success. Her ambition to make things better is relentless.

There is still plenty more for Kim to achieve as a player and Arsenal will be grateful they no longer need to concern themselves with the added load of the international calendar. Her club career can now become her sole focus and her hunger to keep winning remains as keen as ever.

Many think of role models in relation to inspiring the younger generation. But, while Kim has unquestionably been an inspiration to Scottish youngsters, she has also been an example to her team-mates, other athletes, and to those who simply are interested in achieving excellence in the field of their choice.

I feel honoured to have seen Kim’s accomplishments with Scotland first hand and I am excited to see the many more which lie ahead away from the national team.

Shine stunner keeps Glasgow City in Champions League hunt

Clare Shine might have scored one of the goals of the tournament before many teams entering the UEFA Women’s Champions League have even begun their campaign.

Glasgow City travelled to Switzerland midweek to play the first leg of their second qualifying round tie. The game against Servette FC finished 1-1, with Shine equalising in the 66th minute to give City a crucial draw to take back home.

The game was tightly contested as expected and, although Glasgow City went into the round as the higher-ranked side, both teams will feel this is a match-up they can progress from. The home side dominated possession and were comfortable to keep the ball, although their best attacks came from aerial set-pieces, which City at times looked vulnerable from.

As City grew into the game, it took something very special to level the tie – Claire Walsh drove forward from centre-back before clipping a neat ball over the top of the Servette backline. As it dropped, Shine instinctively took it early as it came down over her right shoulder. Her first-time volley sailed past the onrushing goalkeeper and into in the far corner, as the home crowd were silenced.

City will now welcome Servette to Broadwood Stadium on Wednesday, with the tie evenly poised. They have home advantage and will feel safe in knowledge their fans have turned up countless times to help them over the line on Champions League nights just like this.

Meanwhile, Aberdeen Women start their SWPL1 campaign – live on BBC Alba – on Sunday. Kick-off is 4.10pm. They welcome last season’s runners-up, Celtic, to the Balmoral Stadium.

Arsenal v Chelsea the pick of the weekend fixtures as FAWSL returns

The FAWSL has kicked off with the game of the weekend undoubtedly coming from the Emirates on Sunday, where Arsenal will host Chelsea.

Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal – the “big three” – look likely to fight it out for the title again this term. While Manchester United and Everton made progress last season in closing the gap, it might still be a big ask for either side to put up a serious challenge.

On deadline day, Arsenal landed United States winger Tobin Heath, Aston Villa swooped for former England star Gemma Davison and Manchester United rounded proceedings by signing Swede Filippa Angeldahl.

Chelsea have been the quietest of all the clubs in the window, with boss Emma Hayes confirming she is very happy with her current playing group.

A few exited this summer to go and earn more playing time elsewhere, with the only two new recruits being youthful additions in Dutch defender Anouk Nouwen and English forward Lauren James. With a clean sweep of domestic trophies last season they look to be the team to beat again.

Their opponents this weekend might be their toughest challenge this season. Arsenal have injected some competition into their squad with the arrival of new head coach Jonas Eidevall this Summer.

They have strategically added some serious quality into their attack with the arrivals of Nikita Parris from Lyon and former World Cup winner Mana Iwabuchi. The Japanese midfielder has been a standout already in their early Champions League games.

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