THESE are exhilarating times for Manchester City defender Jen Beattie. Like her Scotland team-mate Jane Ross, she has Champions League football to savour ahead of Euro 2017.
The 25-year-old lists winning Europe’s top club competition as among her career targets. Her club has a quarter-final, first leg, tie against Fortuna Hjorring in Denmark on Thursday.
Beattie is expected to line up in central defence, just as she does for Scotland – but she has, to put it mildly, been around the houses. She won her first cap in 2008 at 17 against the United States, and began her international life as a full back.
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The Glaswegian was then pushed up to striker, where she rattled in most of her 22 goals including four in a friendly against Northern Ireland. “We were laughing at this the other day,” she points out. “But I think I’ve played every position for Scotland apart from goalkeeper and left wing.”
With her height and strength she would probably make an excellent goalie too – just as she might have been a formidable rugby player. But despite the obvious family connection – father John and older brother Johnnie both played with distinction for Scotland – it’s a game she has, perhaps surprisingly, never tried.
“I was encouraged to play every sport as a kid, but rugby was never available for girls at our school,” she says. Instead she made history by becoming the first – and almost certainly only – girl to captain the Glasgow Primary Schools football select.
Her senior clubs have been Celtic, Arsenal, Montpellier and City, with a loan spell at the latter’s sister club, Melbourne City, thrown in. Not bad for a player who thought college soccer in America might be as good as it got.
Despite her relatively young age, Beattie has already won 106 caps. “Long may it continue and fingers crossed,” she says. “I never thought I’d get to 100.”
She lists that landmark as among her career highlights, along with winning the FA WSL league and Continental Cup double last season.
Despite enjoying her sojourn in the south of France, and the months in Melbourne, Beattie has no intention of resuming her travels any time soon. “I’m very content at Man City,” she points out. “It’s a brilliant club and it was a good decision to move there (from Montpellier).”
She lives within walking distance of the Etihad, is employed by a club which genuinely values women’s football, and gets to watch men’s home games.
“It’s a really good learning experience because we play quite a similar system – so it’s cool watching the men’s first team and trying to emulate what they do,” she says.