Erin Cuthbert: It’s everything I’ve dreamed of since being a young girl


Scotland narrowly failed in their efforts to walk away from their opening game in the 2019 World Cup with a point. Looking back at the scoreline, a 2-1 loss to Group D favourites England already compares well to some of the other results against top seeds at this very early stage.

Given that four sides in third place will qualify as well as the top two in each group, there is even some small wiggle room to be not dissatisfied with the scoreline.

The performance however was the proverbial and much overused cliché, “a game of two halves”. In the immediate aftermath of the disappointment, there was some very mature and honest analysis from some understandably emotionally tired players, including Scotland striker Erin Cuthbert.

“First half I think we could have done a little bit better,” she said.

“We probably gave them too much respect. Second half we regrouped and came together.”

The amount of respect they gave their storied opponents was a theme repeated in the post match interviews and the Scottish players including Cuthbert laudably made no attempt to deflect.

Under a new system on trial by FIFA, the players have to run the media gauntlet before they return to the dressing room, and so have had less time to mentally warm down and to talk to staff who have seen replays, before they face the microphones.

Though unaware that the penalty decision was probably correct under the current law, Cuthbert exhibited the raw emotion of conceding a goal, based on events she cannot see.

“It was really unlucky with the VAR decision. I’ve not seen it, but you trust the decision they make is correct.

“It’s a bit of a weird one. I’m a striker so I was 40 yards away so I couldn’t see why it was made.

“But it was looked over by those in the VAR room so you always leave yourself exposed when you put your hands up in the box.

“It’s unlucky if you’re trying to block a shot, it’s a natural reaction but I suppose that’s football.”

However it wasn’t Scotland’s luck that Cuthbert pointed to.

The side had shown England too much respect and waited too long to, in that wonderful old Scottish football phrase, ‘gerrintae them’.

“We can’t let it get to half-time, that’s the main point we need to take. We can’t let it get to half-time for us to regroup and start playing our game.

“We have to cope with adversity because we’re going to have moments in the game so that’s what we have to take.

“So we were really unlucky but we can’t wait until half-time to regroup because we then leave ourselves exposed all over the pitch.

“I think second half we pressed them a bit higher and we kept the ball. We’re a ball playing team, we like to possess the ball and we did that more in the second half.

“Ultimately we made more chances because of that,” Cuthbert concluded.

Obviously, the format of a World Cup leaves room for a defeat, especially one against the group’s top seeds. Not only does second place in the group guarantee you qualification, but four of the best third placed sides also progress. Japan drew 0-0 with Argentina in the group’s other game.

To that end, the 2-1 loss to England is a not insignificant improvement on the 2-0 or more that looked likely at half time.

Not only have the Scots already passed the psychological barrier of having scored their first ever World Cup finals goal, but with goals scored and goal difference being factors in separating sides, no-one is yet to record a better result against their group favourites although New Zealand came mighty close against the Dutch.

Cuthbert, although despondent in the minute, was seemingly already beginning to pick herself up as she spoke:

“At the end of the day, we’re still disappointed with a loss. I’m absolutely gutted myself, but we have to see the bigger picture.

“Every goal matters. It was a matter of shutting shop at half-time and we’ve done that and managed to score one of our own. I really did think we were going to get an equaliser if we got that one chance but it never did seem to break for us.

“But on the grand scheme of things it’s the best result as a loss, but I can’t see past that at the minute having narrowly lost to your fierce rivals.”

To actually watch a still very young woman processing such an emotional event right in front of your recorder, knowing the next game was not far away, evidenced a maturity well beyond what could be expected at that age.

It has to be remembered that it was just a few weeks ago that she was playing a Champions League semi-final against Lyon for Chelsea WFC. She scored the Blues’ vital goal in the away leg and was a handful for a Lyon side that provide the backbone to the highly impressive French national side. All four goals in their opening 4-0 win over South Korea came from Lyon players.

Despite all that international experience, she has not forgotten where she comes from. Flower of Scotland sets off emotions among most Scots and Cuthbert is no different.

“I was quite emotional [at hearing the national anthem]but I managed to keep it together. But as soon as that first whistle goes you have to play the game and forget the occasion.”

“It was a massive honour. There were so many fans too, possibly more Scottish than English, so that was incredible.

“It was incredible to walk out for your country for the first time. It’s everything I’ve dreamed of since being a young girl.”


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