A year ago, Phoebe Murray was sidelined with an ACL injury – now the 15-year-old is thriving with Aberdeen Women.
The teenager made her SWPL debut for the Dons earlier this campaign and has gone on to make seven appearances so far, mainly in midfield.
She moved up to the Reds’ top-flight team from Aberdeen FC Ladies’ under-18s national performance side, who she still turns out for.
To be playing senior football this term was not something Murray expected, having injured her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in May 2022 when she was still just 14.
She got surgery in November last year, before making her return to playing eight months after the operation – and 10 months after the injury occurred – in July 2023.
Murray said: “I was injured for most of last year and missed an entire season. I didn’t really expect to be playing first team football at all this year.
“I thought I would just go back into the under-18s and gradually get back playing. But I’ve made the step up and felt I had to really take the opportunity with the first team on.”
The recovery from the ACL injury was an arduous process for Murray, who added: “It was a slow start when I got back playing. It was hard getting my fitness levels back up, but I feel like I am getting there.
“I look back on the past year and can appreciate how far I have come. I got my operation in November 2022 and I didn’t think a year later that I would be playing at this level.
“It is mad to think about. I’m really glad I pushed myself and worked really hard to get back.”
Murray embracing top tests in SWPL
Murray is relishing the chance to keep testing herself in the top-flight, having already noticed significant improvements in her own game.
The teen said: “I’ve loved it. I’m taking every game as it comes and I feel like I have improved massively since I’ve been up with the first team.
“It’s been really good to get some minutes and see what the top level in Scotland is like.
“The game is a lot more physical than what I am used to, and playing with the likes of Eilidh Shore and Hannah Stewart, who are great players, is helping me learn and improve all the time.
“I enjoy the challenge of playing in this league. Ever since I was young I have always wanted to be challenged and playing against the top teams will just make me better.”
It has been a season of firsts for club and country for Murray, who has made her debut for Scotland – at both under-16s and under-17s level – since making the move up to Aberdeen’s first team.
Murray said: “I absolutely loved it. It’s just a different experience and a different kind of football.
“Getting to play in the Euros against the likes of Italy was just on another level. It taught me so much.
“And it’s just about getting to know everybody with Scotland.
“I hadn’t been involved with the set-up because of being out injured, so it’s been great getting to know new people and making new friends.”