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Camilla Care

Arsenal legend Kim Little was mistaken for another player’s ‘friend’ before his club debut

Vaseline 1 month ago

Today there is absolutely no doubt about the skill and talent of Arsenal captain and penalty specialist Kim Little.

But the Gunners legend may not always have been so well known.

Little has won three WSL titles, three FA Cups and six League Cups with ArsenalCredit: Getty

In the early days of her career, the Aberdeen-born midfielder moved from Hibernian to Arsenal in 2008.

At just 17 years old, she joined a club packed with many of the biggest stars in women’s football, especially as Arsenal had just achieved a historic quadruple victory the season before.

One of those players was compatriot Julie Fleeting, who won 17 major trophies with Arsenal during her nine years at the club.

Fleeting joined talkSPORT’s Women’s Football Show, where she spoke to former Gunners teammate Lianne Sanderson to reflect on their time together at the club.

And one memory that stands out among the four-time winners was the first time young Little arrived at Arsenal ready to make her debut.

However, the rest of the team was not informed of their new addition – something that ultimately led to some funny scenes.

Fleeting explained to talkSPORT exactly how the confusion had arisen.

She said: “It was so funny because she was a young player so not many people would have known who she was. She was traveling in the car, I think it was an away game. I had traveled down by car that morning and Kim and her mother had come along with Colin (Julie’s husband) and I.

From making her debut as a 17-year-old…Credit: Getty
…Little is now an experienced and well-liked captain for ArsenalCredit: Getty

“And she was obviously just wearing normal clothes because she didn’t have her kit or anything yet. She came into the changing rooms and I remember everyone was looking at her – I just assumed Vic had said we had a new player had signed. She has entered, it is her first match this weekend.

“She’s in the changing rooms, just dressed in a normal tracksuit. I remember you saying, ‘Who’s your mate?’ “Do you know she’s a contracted player? And everyone said ‘No.’

“When he finished his team talk and left, and she was still staying in the changing rooms, I saw people looking at each other and saying, ‘Why is Fleets’ mate hanging around here for the team talk? What is she doing here?’ ‘ And I remember you just thought I brought a friend!”

And Sanderson laughed as she recalled her own confusion when she first saw Little in the locker room all those years ago.

She said: “Kim Little, one of the best players ever – still playing now – I remember she came with you and we were like, ‘Why does Fleets have her mate in the dressing room?’ Kim was about 17 years old at the time. We thought, ‘Oh, Fleets brought a family member.’

“Vic (Akers) is one of the best coaches I’ve ever had – top guy – but he’s not the best communicator sometimes. And he was just doing the team talk and we were like, Fleets has her boyfriend here – and then she was committed to changing clothes!’ And it was Kim Kleine!”

Little played for Arsenal until 2013, before moving to American club Seattle Reign.

She also had huge success in the US, going on to win two NWSL Shields with the club, before also winning two titles during a loan spell with Melbourne FC in 2016.

Fleeting is an Arsenal legend in his own rightCredit: Getty
She starred alongside Sanderson – a lioness and four-time winner who is now a talkSPORT pundit and presenterCredit: talkSPORT
Little has previously admitted she would like to win more trophies with ArsenalCredit: Getty

But the Arsenal hero eventually returned to North London and has been an indispensable member of the squad ever since.

The 33-year-old also scored 59 goals in an impressive 140 appearances for Scotland before announcing her international retirement in 2021.

Calm, collected and an excellent leader, Little’s skills have always shone through on the pitch.

Fleeting went on to describe how all the confusion in the dressing room about Little before her debut turned to pure joy as soon as the midfielder played her first minutes on the pitch.

She recalled: “She was sitting on the sofa and I remember her coming – just a young girl. Whoever got pulled must have said, “I can’t believe I’m getting subbed to Fleets’ buddy!”

“She didn’t lose the ball once, she was just a young girl with a lot of confidence on the field, hitting the ball around. And after the game I remember the players saying, ‘By the way, your buddy can come back!’ “

You can tune into talkSPORT’s women’s football show on talkSPORT 2 on Mondays from 7pm.