Natalie's aiming to be a silver Celt
By: Paul Cuddihy on 23 Mar, 2012 09:27
NATALIE Ross has won a clean sweep of honours both north and south of the border, while she has also gained 11 full caps for Scotland. So it’s hard to believe that the midfielder is still only 22.
This ‘veteran’ of the women’s game is one of a number of new signings Celtic have made for the new campaign, which kicked off last weekend with a 1-0 victory over Hibernian and her target for this season is to add to her already impressive medal haul.
Ross, a combative midfielder, made her debut for the Hoops in the game last weekend at Lennoxtown, lining up against her former team-mates, having spent the whole of last season playing for the green and white steam of Edinburgh.
It was a second spell at the club, bookending a two-year stint with the top team in the British women’s game, Arsenal.
As such, there’s no doubting the quality the Aberdeen-born player possesses. An ankle injury slightly derailed the upward trajectory of her career but, fully-fit and with a season at Hibernian behind her, she’s looking forward to pushing on again at Celtic, and it only takes a cursory glance at her time in the women’s game to realise that the Hoops have acquired a player of real quality.
“It was strange warming up before the game and seeing all the Hibs players who had been my team-mates last year,” Ross told the Celtic View. “But during the game you forget all about that and just play your game. And then, after the game, I was able to speak to the girls.
“It’s a really good mix of players in the Celtic squad. There are some experienced players, but we’ve also got some really talented young players as well. Everyone’s been really enthusiastic and welcoming, and it’s an inspiring club. We’ve got a great squad and I really believe we can achieve success here.”
Hibernian was the starting point for Ross’ career, and her performances for the Edinburgh club saw her capped for Scotland. From there, it was a move down south to Arsenal.
But a bad ankle injury saw her opportunities limited, and after an operation to help rectify the problem, she returned to Scotland, rejoining Hibernian.
Now living just outside Livingston, there was been less travelling to training sessions and games compared to her first stint with Hibs, when she had to travel to and from Aberdeen.
And with three training sessions a week for Celtic and a game on a Sunday, it certainly helps.
“Going to Arsenal was a great opportunity,” she said. “I was able to train with their Academy, play football with some really top players and also study for a Sports Studies degree. Now that I’m back up here, it’s just a case of trying to find a job suited to what I did in my degree.
“It was the first time I was away from home but I was so busy with football and studying, and I also shared a house with a few of the Arsenal girls so it was a great experience.”
There is an impressive level of dedication to football in the women’s game. For example, over and above the three scheduled training sessions during the week, and the match on a Sunday, the players are also expected to do their own training as well…. Oh, and they all have jobs or are studying as well!
But regardless of the demands, Ross, like the rest of the players, isn’t complaining. There is a genuine love of the game, and in Natalie Ross’ case, there is also an appreciation, on the back of a serious injury, that it’s something which should be enjoyed.
Family support has been vital for Ross throughout her career. He dad would try to get down to London every two or three weeks to watch her playing for Arsenal, and now that she has returned to Scotland, he’s able to see all her games.
There is competition for his football attentions, however, as her younger brother, Frank, plays for Aberdeen’s Under-14 side.
“Sometimes he has to watch the first-half of Frankie’s game, and then make it to the second-half of my game,” Ross explained.
“My dad was a bit sceptical when I first went to football training years ago, but once he’d watched me, he saw that I was quite good and since then he’s always watched me player for whatever team I’ve been with.
”My dad has always told me to work hard, give 100 per cent and to really enjoy it,” she said, “and after the injuries I’ve had, I really do know to make the most of playing, and I do enjoy it.”
Success has added to that enjoyment in the past for Natalie Ross and she’s hoping that, with characteristic hard work and dedication, further success will follow, this time in the green and white Hoops.