Born in Paisley Scotland, Caroline Weir began playing football with a local boys team Elgin Star FC where she was the only girl in the league. Now, the 27-year-old is living out her dream under the Spanish sun playing for Real Madrid.
But the journey was never a simple one and reflecting on her career the midfielder speaks about how women's football has changed, how the game taught her everything and her sporting heroes.
“The game has changed for the better. Growing up my only option was to play in a boys team. Now when I go home there are so many girls’ teams and they’re interested in playing and following football.
“The women’s game is doing well on its own, it’s taking time and they’re trying to develop it in the right way."
The memory of the Lionesses lifting the trophy at Wembley after winning the European Championships in 2022 has become etched into everyone’s mind and it’s no different for Weir.
“I’ve seen it grow in the last ten years to things I could have only dreamed of. Wembley in the summer was such a watershed moment and it’s a good image of how far the women’s game has come. There are still things to do but it’s going in the right direction. It’s sustainable and inclusive and hopefully, it continues like that.”
The two-time Scotland Player of the Year secured a contract with the Gunners as a teenager in 2013 prompting her move to North London. However, reminiscing on the move Weir said it was the “hardest moment of her career.”
“The move was quite difficult and I wouldn’t say I loved it. I found it hard and the adjustment difficult. I was really homesick and it was the dream move but it didn't pan out the way I hoped for.
“I found it hard to break into the team and found living in London difficult, especially coming from a small town in Scotland.”
“But I would change nothing about it. I grew up really fast and learnt so much about football and life off the pitch. It was really challenging but to play for Arsenal was really cool.
“I was alongside Rachel Yankey and Alex Scott who were players that I looked up to so it was incredible to be part of the squad and there were a lot of positives.”
A few years later Weir headed up to North West England to join Liverpool and won the clubs Player of the Season award in her debut season. Her impact didn’t go unnoticed as she caught the attention of Manchester City's then manager, Nick Cushing.
In 2018 she signed a two-year deal for The Citizens, a move that was much easier than London.
“Manchester is more my vibe, I like the size of the city and the people are friendly. I would call it my second home, I really liked it.”
The city is renowned for its coffee shops and brunch spots and Weir became a regular at one of Manchester’s most popular cafes, Federal.
Ahead of the 2022-23 season Weir signed for Real Madrid where she netted her career first hat-trick in a 6-1 win against Valencia in the Women's Primera Division.
Alongside this, her favourite footballing memory is representing Scotland at their first World Cup in 2019.
“That’s something I dreamt of when I was a young girl and it’s something I’m really proud of. I represented Team GB at the Olympic Games too and it’s so competitive to get into that squad, it’s something that I never thought I would be part of.”
Of all the skills football has taught Weir, the one that remains important to her is balance.
“It gives me real balance in life. With football things can be really good and you can have real highs and then the next week you could be losing or injured. Life moves quickly and nothing stays the same for too long.
“With football you get what you put in. In sport you can see the results on the pitch and the two most important things are working hard and keeping level-headed when things aren’t going well.
“We all know what football can do on a universal scale and it brings so many people together. That’s what it’s good for: unity.”
At Scotland’s iconic national stadium, Hampden Park, Weir watched her footballing idol Zinedine Zidane score a volley into the top corner during the Champions League Final in 2002 and it quickly became one of her favourite memories.
“I used to have posters of him growing up and he was exactly what I wanted to play like. It’s really cool because he was a Real Madrid fan and now I play for them.”
Making her mark in the women’s game now Weir celebrates the environment she is in: “Strong women inspire me now. I’m really passionate about women having a voice and saying what they believe in. We’re in a place where women are feeling more comfortable to do that.
“In my sport I am surrounded by strong women who want to make the world better.”