This Sunday Erin Cuthbert and Scotland create history when they make their debut in the Women’s World Cup finals. They go head-to-head with England’s Lionesses in the south of France.
Chelsea Women’s Player of the Year had an impressive season domestically and was also named in the Women’s Champions League squad of the year. Her semi-final strike against Lyon was voted as the best goal in the competition.
We spoke to the Scottish rising star, who will be hoping to shine on the global stage…
How excited are you to be going to the World Cup?
‘It’s hard to put into words how exciting and how daunting the prospect of a World Cup is. As a kid I dreamed of playing in a World Cup, I watched it on TV but I didn’t know Scotland was every going to make it there and to be part of that and represent my country on the biggest stage is going to be the greatest honour.’
What do you make of the teams in your group?
‘It’s a very tough group, I mean we’re under no illusions, as soon as the draw came out everyone was looking at Scotland v England and rightly so because it’s a big opening game.
‘The other two teams in the group are very tough, Japan finished second in the last World Cup and England finished third – we probably couldn’t get two harder teams in our group and even Argentina I don’t know much about them.
‘Other than Brazil, I’ve never played a South American team so it’s kind of a bit of the unknown with Argentina, so I think they are all pretty tough games to be honest.’
What do you think Scotland’s chances are?
‘We’ve set a target to get out of the group, we’ve got enough quality in our squad and we’ve been preparing for over a year now and we aren’t here to just take part. Effectively yes it’s a big achievement but we don’t want to settle, I think the squad is capable of so much more.’
Who are the favourites?
I think obvious favourites are probably America for winning it in 2015, they will be wanting to do it again. But then you have seen at the Euro 2017 what a home advantage can do and Netherlands went to win the Euros, so I think France will be among the favourites as well.
‘I think is probably the most open World Cup there has ever been and it’s really exciting for the neutral to watch and get involved in women’s football.’
‘I think scoring the first goal in Scotland’s first ever major tournament [Euro 2017] was a special moment for me and my family.
‘To hear the Scotland fans cheering as well was pretty special but ultimately we went on to lose the game so it was a bit bittersweet.
‘Qualifying for the World Cup out in Albania, it wasn’t in our hands, it was actually in Switzerland’s hands to qualify and we didn’t really know how the results were going, it was played at the same time as our game and I just remember at full-time, we won but we didn’t want to celebrate because I didn’t know what was happening.
‘I couldn’t concentrate on the game and I remember seeing the girls from the stands come down to the bench, but no one was giving it away, there was no emotion coming from anyone. As soon as the full-time whistle blew all the people on the bench and the coaching staff sprinted on the pitch and I just knew that was when we’d done it. My heart almost skipped a beat in that moment.’
The prospect of scoring Scotland’s first World Cup finals goal…
‘That would be amazing, there is probably no better feeling than scoring for your country and seeing a lot of Scotland flags being raised, but there are so many players in our team that goals can come from, we’ve got a lot of people playing in the WSL and abroad.
‘The goals can come from many different places but I’d just be happy if anyone put it in the back of the net to be honest.’
What is the media coverage like in Scotland?
‘The games will be shown live on BBC Alba and obviously the BBC in England so that will be great.
‘I think the only way that people start believing in women’s football is if they can have access to it and BBC Alba is now creating the platform for people who maybe wouldn’t be interested in going to a match but after they have seen it on TV they might change their opinion on it.
‘It’s a domino effect whereby if you perform well, you get more attention. Since qualifying we have seen an absolute explosion with the amount of media attention we’re getting just because we qualified for the World Cup, so I dare to think what we would get if we were successful in France.
‘Now that the games are played on TV, it’s a real big chance for media and for people to become involved in women’s football. It’s a really exciting time for Scotland to be put on the map, especially where the men haven’t qualified for a major tournament in over 20 years so we’re almost flying the flag for Scottish football at the moment.’
Are family and friends attending matches?
‘My family and friends will definitely be attending the matches, I haven’t been anywhere without my family, they’ve even been at the warm-up matches for the World Cup. They even came to the Algarve Cup, they honestly follow me everywhere.
‘I wouldn’t go anywhere without them and I don’t think they would let me go anywhere without them! My sister is coming out too which is very special, she’s managed to get time off work to come and support me as well.’