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I won Arsenal quadruple, but only flew in for matches from Scotland once a week



For most people, winning a quadruple is an achievement beyond even our wildest dreams.

But for Arsenal legend Julie Fleeting, the historic feat was one she achieved in the most remarkable circumstances.


Multi-talented Fleeting has also represented Scotland as a basketball playerCredit: Getty

The former striker won seventeen major trophies during her Arsenal career, with her success epitomised in the 2006/07 season when her side lifted the Women’s Premier League (now the WSL), the UEFA Women’s Cup (now the Women’s Champions League), the FA Cup and the League Cup.

Fleeting had been playing for Ross County in Scotland before she signed for Arsenal in 2004.

But speaking to talkSPORT’s Women’s Football Show, she recalled how the unique terms of her agreement meant that her commute to Arsenal games ended up being rather long indeed.

She said: “At the time, Arsenal weren’t professional. (Manager) Vic Akers had asked me if I would sign down there. When I came home (from the USA) I had got a job teaching in Scotland, full-time Monday to Friday. And he said, ‘Listen, you can still live in Scotland, work where you always planned to work.’

“Because I don’t know if my job would’ve transferred down south either. I wouldn’t have been able to afford to live down there because Arsenal weren’t going to be paying as much as what my teaching salary at the time would be.”

Fleeting went on to explain how she decided to construct her schedule to allow her to balance her job and her Arsenal career.

She said: “I’ll fly up and down, I’ll work Monday to Friday and then on a Sunday morning, I’ll fly down. I’ll train with a men’s team or my brother’s team and I’ll fly down in the morning, play the game and then fly home. I know it was bizarre but for me, if that hadn’t been offered to me, I wouldn’t have been able to play for Arsenal. I wouldn’t have been able to afford to move down south.”

While at home in Scotland from Monday to Friday, Fleeting would train twice a week with the Under-21 section of local men’s club Kilwinning Rangers.

All in a day's work for Fleeting - the Arsenal striker would often only see her teammates on Sundays


All in a day’s work for Fleeting – the Arsenal striker would often only see her teammates on SundaysCredit: Getty

Speaking to UEFA in 2007, her father described how her dedication to playing football had driven her to commit to such a busy schedule.

She said: “It’s a three-and-a-half hour drive from Inverness to Glasgow , she then jumps on a plane, jumps back on the same plane at half past ten at night, and drives back up the road because she’s teaching the next day. It’s those sacrifices you’ve got to make.”

Despite spending most of the week many miles away from Arsenal, her former teammate and talkSPORT presenter and pundit Lianne Sanderson remembered how Fleeting had shone every single week on the pitch despite her packed schedule.

She recalled: “You’d land, play in the game, sometimes come off in the game if we were winning comfortably just so you could get back to Scotland! What I love about this story is that none of us had a problem with it, everyone loved you because you were a great teammate, but isn’t that crazy to think about that you used to literally fly for games, train with a boys’ team midweek.

“I mean we were training twice a week – we won the quadruple, we won the Champions League! We were laughing about it at the Emirates because we were saying Fleets used to fly in every single game and play! Bang in a hattrick, wave us off, see you later!”

In addition to being an Arsenal legend, Fleeting has also etched her name into the history books thanks to her role in the Scotland women’s national team.

Having scored a staggering 116 goals in 121 appearances, no player has scored more goals for Scotland Women than she has.

She is one of just two female players to have been inducted into Scottish Football Museum’s Hall of Fame and was made an MBE in 2008.

Fleeting was known for being one of the best finishers in the game


Fleeting was known for being one of the best finishers in the gameCredit: Getty

And what makes her achievements so impressive is the way she balanced her job as a teacher alongside her football career at a time when women’s footballers often had to balance another job.

“There were times when I would be coming in with maybe one hour to go to the game,” said Fleeting. “I hadn’t been at training and I was literally looking at the wall, at the set plays – because you guys had been working on them throughout the week – just trying to familiarise myself.

“Out for the warmup, and sometimes it was like…as soon as the final whistle had gone I was in the changing rooms, showered and back to the airport and back home to Scotland!

She told Sanderson: “It seemed to click for us really quickly on the pitch – but it probably took me a really long time to know anyone, like their personality off the pitch because I spent zero time with anybody.

“Except maybe the first time I got to spend a bit more time with everyone was when we’d go away on European trips. But other than that, I’d see you for the warmup, then that was it – I was off! No one’s seeing me again for another week.”

You can tune into talkSPORT’s Women’s Football Show on Mondays from 7pm on talkSPORT 2.

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