Kim Little: The decorated career of the Arsenal and Scotland icon

Kim Little of Arsenal during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Arsenal Women and West Ham United Women at Meadow Park (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Scotland legend and Arsenal captain Kim Little has had a long and successful career in football. Let’s take a look back at where it all started, and the journey she has taken to become a top name in women’s football.

Move to the Capital

Originally from Aberdeen, Little first started kicking a football around with her father and brother. She soon found herself playing for a local boy’s youth team — as did many young girls at the time. From there, she would start playing for her local team and school.

At the age of 13 she would make the move to Edinburgh side Hibernian Girls, which required a six-hour round trip to attend the clubs’ training and games. Access to football was greatly restricted to girls at the time. Dedication and commitment were required just to be able to play the beautiful game.

Playing for the capital side allowed Little the chance to travel and attend various competitions. At the age of just 16, she would debut for Edinburgh in 2006.

Her debut was a stellar success — always maintaining a calm presence when she had the ball at her feet. She scored a hat-trick against Hutchinson Vale in the Scottish Women’s Premier League.

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Fast forward two years, and Little would sign for Arsenal, the club she would eventually be most associated with.

She played for the Gunners while studying at university and would go on to dedicate the next six years to the club.

The midfielder made a massive impact in the FA Women’s Premier League, becoming one of the top goal scorers. In 2010 she was crowned Player of the Year.

Playing for Arsenal allowed her to step up a level in competitive play, with a more structured set up and intense training. Towards the end of the 2010 season, coach Laura Harvey moved across the pond to coach in the NWSL. Shelley Kerr took over as her replacement at Arsenal, but this would not be the last time Harvey would coach Little.

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USA and Beyond

As Harvey began her tenure with the NWSL’s Seattle Reign, she knew the talent Little held and wanted that style of play in Washington. Reaching out to her former Arsenal star, she convinced Little to join her stateside.

Even on a different continent, Little was out for goals. She made an immediate impact, scoring a brace in her debut with Seattle. She was named Player of the Month several times and the league’s Most Valuable Player at the end of the season.

With her attacking pace, calm nature and confidence in playmaking, Little was the perfect mix for an attacking midfielder.

After two seasons with Reign, she would make a return to London and to Arsenal in 2016. Playing on the same pitch with superstars like Hope Solo and Megan Rapinoe allowed her to again step up a level of play and skill.

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In addition to her stint in the States, Little joined Melbourne City FC on loan for the 2015/16 season. Showing her offensive prowess yet again, Little starred for a side that won the regular season title and the Grand Final.

Little finished second in the league in scoring, and was named Player of the Match in the Grand Final.

International success

Little has also had a tremendous international career with Scotland’s national team and Great Britain.

Former Scotland manager Anna Signuel first called Little up to the senior squad when the midfielder was just 16 years old. Little enjoyed a star career that saw her lead her nation to their first World Cup appearance in 2019.

After 15 years, 140 matches, and 59 goals for the Tartan Army, Little announced her retirement from international play in September 2021.

Little has also represented Great Britain twice at the Olympics, in London 2012 and Tokyo 2020. She and Jill Scott share the distinction of being the most capped players for the side, with nine appearances each.

In 2021, Kim Little was named one of three captains for the side at the postponed Tokyo Games, along with Sophie Ingle of Wales and Steph Houghton of England.

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Gunner at Heart

Little returned to Arsenal in 2017 after her season down under. Unfortunately, she missed a large part of that season due to a ligament injury.

Upon return, Little showed her tremendous knowledge of the pitch and quickly ascended to captaincy of the squad. Her understanding of the game made her a perfect fit for captain.

Little sustained another significant injury in 2018 while facing rival Chelsea. A dangerous and heavy tackle fractured the Arsenal captain’s fibula, sidelining her for weeks.

Upon returning to the pitch, Little led The Arsenal to the WSL title in 2019. Following that success, the captain extended her contract for the team. Arsenal made some new and exciting signings recently with the likes of Nikita Parris, Tobin Heath, Simone Boye, Frida Maanum, and Mana Iwabuchi.

Captain Kim Little has remained a crucial part of the starting eleven, showcasing her experience and knowledge of the sport.

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