Caroline Weir’s Real Madrid unveiling was the realization of a dream for the Scotland star

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Caroline Weir's Real Madrid unveiling was the realization of a dream for Scotland star - Alan Campbell

Caroline Weir’s Real Madrid unveiling was the realization of a dream for Scotland star – Alan Campbell

CAROLINE Weir’s unveiling by Real Madrid at tapas time in the Spanish capital on Thursday was the realization of a dream for the Scotland midfielder.

She has held an affection for the club since honing her footballing skills in the family’s Dunfermline garden and idolizing Zinedine Zidane.

Weir had Zidane’s name on the back of her Real Madrid top and was so driven that her father, Lindsay, rigged up a home-made floodlight enabling her to continue practicing in the dark. That dedication was again rewarded three days ago when the 27-year-old continued an illustrious journey which started with the local Elgin Star boys club in a seven-a-side league.

I was in Reykjavik on July 1, 2013, when Weir replaced Leanne Crichton late in the second half to make her Scotland debut in a 3-2 friendly win over Iceland. She now has 88 caps and 14 Scotland goals, including the one which gave her side their first ever major championship victory – 1-0 against Spain in the third Euro 2017 group game.

Her new team-mates will forgive her for that one, as it didn’t stop Spain progressing to the knock-out stages at Scotland’s expense. She is now at a club which has won the men’s Champions League a record 14 times, and which she described on Thursday as the biggest in the world.

That said, the women’s side is only just setting out on its journey. For many years there was no enthusiasm from the club hierarchy to even have a team, and as recently as 2018 Real Madrid and Getafe were the only two La Liga clubs not to have one.

The following June, however, the board recommended to club members integrating an existing side called CD TACON into the structure, and it was approved three months later. On July 1, 2020, the merger was completed, and since then the team has been called Real Madrid.

They hit the ground running in 2020-21, finishing second behind Barcelona, ​​but slipped to third last season, a whopping 30 points behind their greatest rivals. Weir’s arrival has also been offset by some high profile departures this summer.

Manchester City, who the midfielder left after four very successful years, played Real Madrid in the second round of the Champions League last season. Weir scored the opening goal in the away leg, but it didn’t prevent City losing 2-1 on aggregate.

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By a huge quirk of fate, the teams have been seeded to meet again in the Champions League on August 21. They were drawn in the same first round league path mini-tournament.

That means Weir should make her competitive debut against Sturm Graz three days earlier – and if her new side win they will play City, who have a seemingly straightforward opening tie against Kazakhstan side Tomiris Turan.

DEBBI McCulloch will get a taste of the high life when she jets out to Costa Rica next month for the Women’s Under-20 World Cup. FIFA are paying for the trip, which means business class flights via Toronto (outward) and Newark (return) to the capital San Jose.

“It means I’ll probably miss the second league game but you’ve got to get the balance right. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” the long-time Spartans head coach pointed out.

McCulloch is one of twenty female coaches who will be the beneficiaries of FIFA’s second mentorship program, and she has been paired with Juventus and former Arsenal head coach Joe Montemurro.

“We’ve met via Zoom already and we’re in contact pretty much every week through email,” McCulloch said. “I know the Arsenal girls thought extremely highly of him.”

As well as spending three days at the tournament in Costa Rica with the other mentees and mentors, McCulloch will make three trips to Turin during the six month program. Australian Montemurro will also visit Spartans, where in addition to providing coaching advice he will get a feel for the club’s highly regarded community program.

“Obviously he’s working at a much higher level than I am, but he’s very open and wants to learn different things,” McCulloch said. “I’m sure we’ll both gain a lot from the experience – and hopefully remain friends for life.”

Scotland head coach Pedro Martinez Losa will mentor France women’s U20 head coach Sonia Haziraj on the same program.

HIBERNIAN’S decision to take their women’s team under the umbrella of the main club was overdue. That status is already enjoyed by most of their closest rivals.

The club will announce the team’s new ground this week. Without wishing to rain on their parade, it’s considerably closer to Easter Road than Livingston’s Tony Macaroni Arena.

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