During the summer, Arsenal captain Kim Little announced her decision to retire from the Scottish national team. Now 31, the Gunners skipper said she wanted to focus on prolonging her club career. This season, she has played more minutes than any other player at Arsenal and Little says that she does not regret her decision.
“This is the third international break we’ve had and I’ve gotten used to it now. Every time, I talk to Jonas and the medical staff about how much time I should have off but also that I am being exposed to what I need to be exposed to so I am fit and ready for the games when they come.”
Little says she hasn’t allowed herself to miss international football by switching off over the international breaks and not allowing herself to dwell.
“I haven’t really missed it yet. I made the decision over a pretty long period of time so I had prepared myself for it mentally. I miss the group of players and the team. But I have stayed away from it otherwise you make yourself quite nostalgic and you think back, so I have avoided it so that I can look forward.
“I think I will do that at the start and then eventually, I will be able to go back and watch the games but right now, I am just looking forward and using the time as best as possible to help me to be able to perform at my best for Arsenal. Especially with the new Champions League group format, it means I am playing more minutes for my club and by the time the break comes, sometimes I feel a bit overloaded but now I can manage that with more days off.”
Little will captain Arsenal in this Sunday’s FA Cup Final against Chelsea and the Scot has plenty of experience in this showpiece occasion, having played in five previous finals for the club, winning three of them.
“I’ve played in a lot of FA Cup games and finals and now they’re at Wembley it’s great to see the development of the game and it just feels like there are more of these big occasions in the women’s game now, which is huge credit to everyone involved in growing the game. As players, we get to do the best bit and play in them and be part of these big occasions. I wish we could have that every week!
“My favourite memory would probably be my first one in 2009, we played Sunderland and won 2-1 and I scored. I have some great memories in FA Cup Finals to take into Sunday.” However, one memory Kim will is the 2018 Final at Wembley between Arsenal and Chelsea, which ended in 3-1 defeat for Arsenal.
#TB Kim Little's goal vs Sunderland
🗓️ May 4, 2009
🏆 FA Cup final
FT: Arsenal 2-1 Sunderland pic.twitter.com/bx6etLPKcC
— miedemastuff (@miedemastuff) May 12, 2020
“We had a disappointing day that day and it was quite a poor performance from us but it’s not something we have spoken about. But those experiences can help you as well, there are things that I can think about from that game and do a lot better in this game. I can use it but we haven’t reflected on it as a collective.”
In her pre-match press conference, which took place shortly before Arsenal’s, Emma Hayes insisted that Chelsea regarded Manchester City as their rivals historically, as opposed to Arsenal. Kim responded with a smile, “I think she’s playing games with that one, that’s all I have to say on that!”