Emma Watson: New Scotland star and Rangers teenager on being coached by a Hibs legend and playing with her idols
and live on Freeview channel 276
On a cold, rainy Tuesday night at Hampden Park, no-one shone brighter than Watson as she announced herself on the international stage with two goals in only her second appearance for Scotland. Anyone watching might easily forget that she only turned 17 in January. Due to sit an exam in two weeks' time, the former Boroughmuir Thistle player now full-time at Rangers has been explaining how her school has really helped her kick on with her footballing career and how Keith Wright is helping her progress on the pitch.
“I go to Broughton High School, which is a JD performance school,” Watson explained. “My first four years at school, I was training with boys, and that really brought me on. Keith Wright is my coach and he's a great guy and I have learned so much from him.
“I'm part-time at school, full-time with football. I’m in school Monday, Tuesday and Friday. I’m doing Highers, studying Maths, Biology and PE. I’ve got my first exam in two weeks so I’ve got to get my head down and start studying now.”
Broughton High School specialises in developing young, upcoming footballers and is one of seven performance schools chosen by the Scottish FA. Wright joined in 2018 and is now one of the dedicated coaches for young stars like Watson. The progress the Rangers midfielder has made over recent seasons is remarkable. Watson made her debut for the Glasgow giants when she was just 15 years old and scored a memorable goal earlier this season against Benfica in the Champions League.
Her days at Boroughmuir Thistle, where she spent five years in the academy, may now feel like a distant dream. However, the Meggetland club still support the midfielder through social media much to her delight.
“My five years at Boroughmuir were great,” she recalls. “The coaches were great, the players were great. It was a huge part of my development being at that club. I had a great time and I learnt so much. Again, I really appreciate the support from former clubs. They have done so much for me and I’m so glad I have that good relationship with them.”
Tuesday night might have been the first game Watson has played at Hampden Park, but it is not the first time she has visited. The teenager has been a regular in the stands, supporting her heroes. Now, instead of watching from the sidelines, the midfielder has the crazy experience of playing alongside her idols, with family and friends cheering her on. Only last week, teammate Nicola Docherty compared the 17-year-old to Scotland and Chelsea star Erin Cuthbert as she continues to dazzle her Scottish counterparts.
“I come to all the Scotland games that I can,” Watson said. “Obviously, I look up to a lot of the players in the squad like Caroline [Weir] and Claire [Emslie]. It’s a bit crazy being a part of it and playing but I’m very very proud. I also look up to Erin [Cuthbert]. She is a fantastic player, so skilful, so direct. Obviously, it is a great compliment to say I remind her of her but it's great.”
Despite being named in the Scotland senior squad by Pedro Martinez Losa for the first time earlier this month, the midfielder has already made a big impression on the dressing room. Former Hibs player and now Real Madrid star Caroline Weir captained Scotland against Costa Rica and linked up well with Watson throughout the game. The 27-year-old is highly impressed by the new star, despite her not having watched ‘Bend it like Beckham’ before the camp. Now that there is more hype around the Rangers midfielder, Weir hopes that she can deal with pressure of being in the spotlight.
“Emma has been great all week and I have been most impressed with her attitude,” said Weir. “She really wants to learn and work hard. Her confidence on the pitch was good to see. Having a young player like that come through is really positive. We wanted someone like Emma to come through and here she is. I’m really happy for her.
“She is at an important age of her development at 17,18. She has obviously burst onto the scene now with that performance and there will be a lot more chattering and it's how she deals with that. From what I’ve seen, she is very grounded, smart and she’s a special player that can definitely kick on.
“It made me feel old when she hadn’t seen ‘Bend it like Beckham’. We told her to watch that this camp. She’s 10 years younger than me and I feel like I remember how it was when I was 17 like it was yesterday. It is a bit scary but that’s what happens. It’s great to have some young players come through and she is obviously a really talented one.”
With her club season due to end in just over a month’s time, Watson still has time to make plenty more memories in the coming weeks. Rangers are still in the hunt for the SWPL title after winning it for the first time last season. The 17-year-old is also set to return to Hampden Park in less than two weeks to face off against Motherwell in the Scottish Cup semi-finals where she hopes to be back amongst the goals.
“First time playing at Hampden and getting a goal,” Watson said. “Hopefully I can go with Rangers and hopefully win the game and maybe get another goal we will see. My next goal will be to get another call-up, but I will go back my club, keep working hard, keep improving and make it difficult for Pedro.”