- Scotland legend Julie Fleeting was Erin Cuthbert’s childhood idol
- The pair became team-mates and Fleeting is now a big fan of the Chelsea star
- #JPNSCO Live Blog updating now
By Aileen Larkin with Scotland
Thanks to the surge of interest in women’s football in Scotland and her starring roles for club and country, Erin Cuthbert is fast becoming a household name. But Scottish legend Julie Fleeting remembers the days when the Chelsea forward was simply a kid with a ball and a dream.
“She was just a young girl who went to the football pitches every day of her life, watched games and did keepie-ups. She lived for football," said Fleeting.
“For her to come through the ranks of a local club, playing with her boys team and then to get her dream move to Chelsea, it’s a fantastic story for young girls who are desperate to make it in football.”
A decade ago, Erin was one of those aspiring girls herself and her idol was a certain Julie Fleeting. "I remember always going to the Scotland games when I was younger and looking up to Julie," Cuthbert told FIFA.com.
"She was just a tremendous player and the fact she was from my local area as well just topped it all off.”
Before stepping on to the pitch as a professional, Cuthbert actually walked out of the tunnel as a mascot – holding Fleeting’s hand as she did so – ahead of a Scotland international match in which current coach Shelley Kerr also played. Jo Love, a team-mate at France 2019, was another player in the line-up that day.
Fast forward a few years and Cuthbert was accompanying her role model, not as a fan, but as a teammate when the two played side by side at Glasgow City. “Julie was just a total inspiration and for me to have played alongside her at Glasgow City makes me feel incredibly privileged. She will go down as one of the best players ever to pull on the Scotland shirt and is a total legend of the game.”
Now, with the 20-year-old a key player in Scotland’s first ever Women’s World Cup campaign, the roles have reversed and it is Scotland’s all-time record scorer’s turn to be the admirer.
“Erin is the kind of player that doesn’t come along very often,” Fleeting said. “She’s a huge star and doesn’t seem to fear the big stage. She’s desperate to get involved in the game and wants to be that player that wins the match.”
After a standout performance in the 2-1 defeat to England on Sunday, Cuthbert will be hoping to emerge as Scotland’s match-winner in Friday’s fixture against Japan. And Fleeting believes the Scots still have a lot to bring to the tournament.
“Losing 2-1 to England is far from an embarrassing result but I still don’t think it’s anywhere near the type of performance that they’ve shown of recent times - so there’s a lot more to come from them.
“The character they showed to keep a clean sheet in the second half and to get us into the game – that’s massive. The confidence that they can take from that makes the second game a totally different story.”