Fleeting's rise worth the sacrifice

Arsenal LFC's line in the final will be led by the prolific Julie Fleeting. Her father Jim - himself a top-level coach - describes her rise to the top.

When Arsenal LFC visit Umeå IK for the first leg of the UEFA Women's Cup final, they will look more than ever to their prolific spearhead Julie Fleeting.

The nine-goal top scorer in the competition this season, Fleeting has 26 in total this term from 19 games and is approaching a century of strikes in international football for Scotland. And the 26-year-old takes on even more importance for Arsenal with the absence through suspension of Kelly Smith for the first leg in Sweden on Saturday and the return in north London eight days later.

Family tradition
Fleeting has football in her blood. Her father, Jim, formerly managed Kilmarnock FC and is now the Scottish Football Assocation's (SFA) director of football development, but takes no credit for his daughter's success. "I can't say that Julie was pushed into football by her dad, it's the exact opposite if truth be told," Fleeting Sr told uefa.com. "She was just an all-round sports person, at around the age of 14 it was all she talked about. She had a lot of sacrifices to make, her mum and dad had a lot of sacrifices to make too. Getting changed in the back of the car because she trained in a boys league, travelling all over the country when she started playing in the girls league because there weren't enough girls teams - even now we're still travelling to London to watch her play."

Long commute
Even now, Julie, a PE teacher, commutes every weekend from her job in Scotland to London to play for Arsenal. Her father explained: "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."

Scottish development
An international since she was 15 - when she represented her country in Brazil - Fleeting is an icon of the women's game in Scotland. And her father says the SFA are working hard to ensure she is not the last: "It has changed dramatically and there are people there and a structure there too. [When Fleeting made her debut] Scotland only had the one national team, and there were girls of 15 to 33 playing in it. Now there's an under-17 team, an under-19 team and the women's national team. It's a lot more structured and it's fantastic for them. People are now looking after girls the way they should have been looked after in the first place."