Caroline Weir: Scotland and Manchester City ace on her time at Hibs, playing at Hampden and why her teammates call her Kaka

Scotland’s international Caroline Weir chats to Graham Falk about her footballing education at Hibs, the Women’s national team playing at Hampden Park and how she got the nickname ‘Kaka’ ...

Known simply as ‘Kaka’ to her team-mates, Scotland international Caroline Weir is one of the best players this country has produced in the past decade.

The Fife-born midfielder is a star in the Manchester City engine room a shining example of the talent being produced in Scotland.

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At just 26-years-old, her prime years are very much still ahead of her.

The City player was regular feature in the Champions League and a vital cog in Team GB’s midfield at this year’s Olympic games in Tokyo.

And while she is now competing on Europe’s biggest stage, her footballing education came right here on the green grass of Scotland.

“My story is very similar to my team-mates and players I’ve played with.” Weir says.

"My family was very into football, we supported Dunfermline and my Dad took all of us along to Elgin Star FC. I started there when I was five and I didn’t look back from there. I loved playing football every Saturday morning. I played as the only girl in my school team – but none of the boys or the parents really cared about that.”

Caroline Weir had recently been voted as one of the best footballers in the world. Photo credit: SNS Group Alan Harvey

However, where the 81-times capped Scotland international really came to prominence was with Hibs, becoming a regular in a title challenging team at just 16-years-old.

Weir’s time with the Edinburgh club put her on a platform to become one one of the country's top talents, forming part of a group of talented youngsters that helped Scotland’s national team to qualify for their first World Cup back in 2019.

"I think we were really fortunate we came through when there were a lot of good players at one time,” she says. “We played through the national teams from under-15 level.

"We just had such a good core group, five or six players which not only were talented but really had a strong mindset and wanted to make it as a footballer.

Caroline Weir in action for Scotland during the FIFA Women's World Cup Qualifier between Scotland and Hungary at Hampden Stadium on October 22, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

"At that point, we didn’t know what that would look like, a lot of us thought maybe that would be America or a scholarship. We didn’t necessarily think we’d all be playing for English clubs and against each other every week in a professional league.

"We were around good coaches, supportive parents and we were able to see the A squad (Scotland Women’s national team) a lot on training camps and education courses. We were exposed to what it takes to be in that national squad from the ages of 12 or 13, before playing against them in training games at 17-18. So we had a lot of contact with the national team.

Weir adds that that young group of soon-to-be stars were ‘lucky’ to have one another for support, and to learn under talented coaches at club and international level.

"It was all about the coaches and the parents itself. They really supported us to get where we are now.”

But what about that famous nickname?

“The nickname Kaka came when I was 14-15,” Weir reveals.

"I moved up the first team to train and there was a coach called Jimmy Burns – he was one of the best coaches I ever had. The first session he called me Kaka, and from there it stuck. I like to think it’s after the Brazilian footballer, but I’m not quite sure if that’s the case.”

Lured away from Scotland by the professional game, Weir was signed by WSL giants Arsenal at the age of just 18 and went on to help the Gunners win the 2014 FA Cup in her first season.

Spells at Bristol and Liverpool came next, before she made the move to one of the pioneers of the women’s game – Manchester City. But she has not forgotten the league she came from.

With three fully professional sides now in the Scottish top tier (SWPL1), what does Weir make of the growth of the game in her homeland?

"The league is a big thing, to be able to play at a decent level early on. We were lucky that we got thrown into the Hibs first team at 15-16, it wasn’t professional back then but we were still playing with women that were 25-26 and had international experience.

"There’s now Glasgow City, Rangers and Celtic all professional and it’s a huge positive.

"You can see it when we go away with Scotland, the girls are talking about how good their clubs are and how much it has brought them on.

"It has to keep going in that direction. The other clubs need to come as well. It takes a strong league to push the levels – it can’t just be one or two teams.

On the national stage things have certainly progressed, with the national team now playing their home qualifiers at the home of Scottish football – Hampden Park.

With a consistent crowds of approximately 6,000 fans at the games so far, the decision by the Scottish FA has clearly been welcomed by supporters, and by Scotland’s number nine.

"There really wasn’t anything like when I was young” Weir says.

"I try to put myself in a little girls or boys position and I would have absolutely loved to go see the Scotland Women’s team at Hampden on a Friday night. I’d have been at every single game.

"It’s how you inspire young kids, I think. To encourage them and make them have their own dreams. It normalises it. We talk a lot about young girls, but we need boys – and men – on side as well.”

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