The 2019 Barclays Women's Super League kicks off this weekend, and following up the surge in support for the women’s game that came with this summer’s World Cup in France, some of the opening fixtures are set to be played at the club’s main stadiums. Amongst that list is Chelsea v Tottenham, which will see Chelsea Women playing at Stamford Bridge for the first time.

Ahead of this momentous occasion, we caught up with several of the Chelsea players including Erin Cuthbert, who comes into the match following her nation's first-ever appearance at a World Cup. The combative Scot talked all about her pathway into the game as well as how she dealt with the ultimate disappointment of this summer’s tournament. But with the dawn of the new WSL season on the horizon, there was only one place to start.

To begin, what goes through your head at the prospect of being able to walk out at Stamford Bridge?

Excitement. I’ve been there as a fan watching the Chelsea men play, so the prospect of walking out at the Bridge is something quite special and I’m lucky enough that my family are going to be down for that game as well.

Are they all travelling down from Scotland?

Yeah, travelling down from Scotland just for the opening game of the season. They were going to come down whether it was at Kingsmeadow or Stamford Bridge, so I’m really excited for them, because I’ve taken them to Chelsea games before, but this is obviously something special where they could see their daughter playing at Stamford Bridge.

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Playing for Chelsea, you want to play at Stamford Bridge, and the prospect of walking out there is something quite special."

Does it feel like a personal milestone for you to play at a stadium like that?

Yeah, sure. If you play for Chelsea you want to play at Stamford Bridge. As much as we love Kingsmeadow – it’s our home – the prospect of playing at Stamford Bridge is so exciting. It’s taking women’s football to another level and it's giving us a platform to then build upon at Kingsmeadow. So I think it’s great that we’re using Stamford Bridge and we’re doing events around it as well. It’s not just the football, it’s a family day too. It should entice people to have a good time. We want excitement. As much as we want to win on the pitch, there’s so much more around the game as well. I think that’s just as important.

Can you tell us about your story from your perspective? How do you describe your journey from where you started as a kid to where you are now?

Hard, definitely hard. Tough in terms of hard work. I had to give up a lot of my things and sacrifice a lot, but I suppose for me it really wasn’t a sacrifice, it was a choice. It was a choice whether I wanted to stay in because I had a game the next day when my friends were going out to parties. It was a choice to go to training everyday. I barely missed a session because I was so dedicated. I think that’s what’s going to get you to the top level. But yeah, a whole load of hard work is going to get you there, because I had a dream, but at the end of the day you have to be willing to do whatever it takes. And I am willing and I’m still learning.

Did you have any resistance as a kid when you said you want to play football?

Yeah, I used to play for a boys team, so all the boys would defend me like I was one of their own, so I really liked that. When we transitioned from seven-a-side to 11-a-side, one of the coaches said that I wouldn’t be able to cover the pitch, I wouldn’t be able to run like the boys did and I wouldn’t be able to keep up, so at that point I left the club and I went to another club who welcomed me with open arms and that kind of became my home. I was very lucky that they believed in me again, because I sort of felt defeated and knocked down a little bit. They said I wasn’t capable and that someone like me shouldn’t be playing on that size of a pitch. But you know what, you’ve just got to prove them wrong. We played them in the league and we beat them and I played, so it’s just about proving people wrong. I think it’s motivation, it spurs you on. Hearing someone say you can’t do something only makes you want to do it more, and that’s in all walks of life, not just football.

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How much would you say your life has changed since joining Chelsea and moving into the professional side of the game?

I’d say massively. I went from a girl living in a small seaside town in Scotland to living in the big city and playing with one of the best clubs in the world with some of the best players in the world that I used to watch on TV and want to be. Everything happened so quickly for me. I was at university and I was training at seven in the morning, going straight to university all day and then straight to club training in the evening. It was super intense and I would work Saturdays before my game on Sunday as well. I worked in retail. Literally I had to put my notice in at Morrisons to play for Chelsea. It’s madness.

That is mad. Did you have to do an exit interview at all? “Why are you leaving?” “Well, I’m going to be a professional footballer…”

[Laughs] No, unfortunately not. But it’s a big contrast in life. I think especially just living without my family. I had to learn everything new. I had to learn how to cook, learn how to clean, as much as I tried to do a little bit when I lived at home in Scotland, but my family would always take care of it and whenever I had a problem, if there was a spider in my bedroom let’s say, my family always used to get it for me. But now I just leave it in a glass for the week until my dad comes down! Honestly, I’m terrified of them.

What’s it like being at a club like Chelsea? Is it quite progressive?

Yeah, of course. Even in my two and a half years at the club I’ve seen it go from very good by my standards to on another level. It is exceptional now. The strides that the club’s making, pushing our game forward, not just Chelsea women, but the whole of women’s football in the league and in Europe to aim for better standards and to strive for better. I think I’m very lucky to be at a club like this that gives us all the facilities we need to go and perform.

What’s the scene like up in Glasgow compared with down here?

Obviously there’s no professional league in Scotland, so I went from a non-professional to a professional when I came down here. I think I’m very fortunate, because some of the girls in the national team play for Scottish clubs and so have to work during the day, and then they have to go to their club training in the evening. So I’m in a very fortunate position where I get to call it my job. But some of these girls aren’t and I think it’s reality when some of the girls have to be careful about how much leave they take off work. When they go away with the national team some companies are really fussy about how many days you take off when, really, you’re going to represent your country. It’s crazy sometimes.

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It was probably the hardest point in my career. Losing cup finals, losing leagues, losing anything – I think that trumped it all."

Touching on the National side of things then, can you tell us about the highs and lows of the World Cup?

I think looking back I need to learn to be mentally strong. I think mental toughness was the biggest part of it, just because it was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster the whole tournament. We were all overwhelmed about it being our first tournament, but believed that we could get out of the group. We lost our first two games in quite difficult circumstances I think. I felt that we were unfortunate. You go two goals down and then you get yourself back in the game you start to believe that you can do it as well, and then you get a couple of decisions against you and then time’s up. It does take an emotional strain on you.

The last game took me a lot of time to recover from. It was probably the hardest point in my career. Losing cup finals, losing leagues, losing anything – I think that trumped it all. Honestly, I couldn’t even describe how I felt. Emotionally, when you feel powerless, it’s the hardest feeling in the world. At that moment, I didn’t really know what to feel. My legs were shaking and it was like an out of body experience. You have it in your hands, you’re going though, you’re qualifying, you’re three goals in front. Two goals, 15 minutes left. Ah no problem, we’ve got it. We were cruising. Everything was fine. We were in the home straight. And then it just took a massive bump in the road. At the top level if you don’t finish teams off they will punish you. But the thing is we thought we did finish them off. It was difficult circumstances and it was upsetting for everyone because we felt we should have got out of the group. That’s the hardest part.

When you went home did you need to speak with anyone?

I didn’t go home. I couldn’t go back to Scotland. I didn’t want people feeling sorry for me. I didn’t want people approaching me and saying “Sorry for what happened”, because the whole country was watching on TV. The whole country saw it. Everybody knows you. All 23 of us have become popular figures in the country. Everyone knew who you were, especially in your home town. So that’s why I thought going home wasn’t the best thing for me at that moment, and I just didn’t want people feeling sorry for me. I chose to take myself out of the situation and go on holiday and then come back to London.

Do you feel like the whole experience has just made you hungry for more success?

Yeah, I think as a group we want to experience more. That’s two back-to-back major tournaments that we’ve qualified for, so it’s been exciting and it’s a good time for women’s football. We feel like we’re only going up and we can only get better, because this team has got so much more to give. It’s a massive achievement in itself for Scotland to qualify for its first-ever World Cup. A lot of the girls have given up a lot of things and sacrificed a lot to get to where they are. I’m so happy for the older ones as well.

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I remember tweeting Carly [Telford] years and years ago. I remember tweeting her and saying she made some good saves. That haunts me!"

You’re only 21 and you’ve come into the game as it’s rising dramatically. Do you feel like it’s about to go onto that next level?

It’s a great time to be involved. I think even when I was growing up I had aspirations and role models because I could see them a bit on the TV. Not as much as the games are televised now, but back then there was FA Cup finals on the TV and some of my teammates that I’m with now were playing in those games. I remember tweeting Carly [Telford] years and years ago. I remember tweeting her and saying she made some good saves. That haunts me! She replied saying thanks. That must’ve been about six years ago. Seven maybe. Mortified. 14 year old me. Get me off Twitter. But it’s making massive strides. I think you see now that brands are starting to take notice. The figures at the World Cup speak for themselves. A lot of people doubt women’s football, but you look at the figures and viewings that those games got and I think it was a great summer for women’s sport and it can only go up.

You’ve mentioned a few players, but who were your role models growing up?

At the time I think it was Julie Fleeting. She grew up in my local area and she took the time out to say hello to me and I think that’s what made me want to be her. And now I know young kids do the same to me and want to be me, so I think that’s really special. All 23 of us are role models and it’s quite special that Scotland as a country has created  culture of women being role models for young kids, not just young girls, but young boys also. Because as the men’s team haven’t reached a tournament in over 20 years, so the last time the country saw players at a tournament was the women’s World Cup, so it’s nice that kids have got female role models growing up as well.

Is there one person whose career you’d like to emulate in terms of the success they’ve had?

No, I don’t look at emulating anyone really. I think the game constantly changes so comparing to what it was 10 years ago or 20 years ago is quite hard because everyone’s improved. I just want to be my own person. I want to be successful and I want to win as many team trophies as I can. I’m at a club like Chelsea because I want to win every single trophy. Even though we’re not in the Champions League next year it’s made me hungry to want to go and get it the following year.

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You’re a midfielder who likes to chip in with a few goals as well. How would it feel to score at Stamford Bridge?

It would be so special. I got asked this question in May: how would it feel to score at Hamden when Scotland got the prospect of playing there? I just said it would be special to even walk on the pitch at Hamden, then I ended up scoring there and I didn’t know how to celebrate. Honestly I think it would just be the most special feeling just walking out. Walking out was so special at Hamden Park and I’m sure it would be special in front of double the crowd. Everyone there being a Chelsea fan wanting you to do well. It would be a special moment for me and nice with my family in the stands as well.

How would you describe your side’s playing style and yourself as a player?

I think that we’re an exciting team. And I think the word to describe me personally is probably exciting. And hard-working. For sure, I’ll give everything for the team no matter what, even if it means sacrificing myself sometimes. I’m passionate too, I wear my heart on my sleeve when I’m on the pitch. Sometimes it’s not always a good thing, but when I play with passion it means that I care and I’ll do everything in my power to make sure the team wins.

You mentioned studying at university. How do you balance both that and football?

Last season was a real struggle for me when we were in Champions League and preparing for a World Cup. I went on holiday before the World Cup for four days to escape everything, but I still had an exam to do. I had to do my exam on the sun lounger. It was a bit of a struggle. But it’s exciting at the same time. I’m realistic that at the moment in this current state of society, my career isn’t going to last forever, and my career isn’t going to set me up for life. As much as I’d like it to and I’d like to support my family I know it’s not realistic, so I know that I have to have other things and business has always interested me. I’ve always seen myself working in business, whether it be at the same time as playing my football, maybe, but definitely after football I want to head into the business industry.

Would you want to be in the football side of business?

I’m unsure, honestly. Cool, quirky jobs really interest me. Doesn’t matter whether that’s a football brand or a soft drink brand, clothing brand, anything. If I’ve got my business head on I just want to see how I can make sales and improve the company. That’s the most exciting part.

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You signed to a brand not long ago, was that quite a proud moment?

Yeah, for sure. It’s a real honour to sign with such a big brand. It’s nice to have their backing behind you, because they’ve got a lot of resources and a big platform that they can use to get your name out there. Equally, it’s probably the first of its kind in Scotland, so thats quite a monumental step for the women’s game in Scotland. Hopefully more players can be involved in that going forward. The young girls in Scotland can maybe think that they can be sponsored, because I never thought of that when I was younger. No one was sponsored at the time. Some of the girls in the national team are still buying their own boots, so there is still a big disparity, but hopefully as we see our game growing and with Scotland being more and more successful, we will see brands getting on board with some of the team.

Finally, what’s the one thing you’d like to achieve this season?

Good question… For Chelsea, I’d like to win the treble. I’ve won the double, I’ve not got the Continental Cup yet and I want it. Equally, the league is very, very important because it measures how you’ve performed over a season and it’s not just a one hit wonder. You have to be good all the time. So we want the league and we want the FA Cup, because Wembley was probably one of the best days in my life and my family’s life so I want to experience it again and I think we’ve got the team to do it.

Photography by Madison Phipps for SoccerBible.