The last time Rachel Corsie remembers her home country of Scotland did anything of note on the world soccer stage was when she was 9 years old. She was playing soccer then, but only at the park for fun, and the Scottish men’s national team had qualified for the FIFA World Cup. The year was 1998.
Fast forward two decades and Corsie, 29, who also plays for the Utah Royals FC, is captain of the Scotland women’s national team, which will compete in its first-ever Women’s World Cup this summer. Scotland, ranked No. 20 by FIFA, is in Group D along with England, Argentina and Japan, and will face England on Sundhay to start the tournament.
For Corsie, the journey on which she is about to embark is surreal. It’s overwhelming. It’s exciting. She had no designs on becoming a professional soccer all those years ago when she remembers the men’s team making the Cup.
“It’s something that’s quite incredible to know that we’re going to a World Cup,” Corsie recently told Scottish newspaper The Press and Journal. “It’s impossible to know how it’s going to feel. Did I think that was possible for me? Absolutely not.”
ABOUT RACHEL CORSIE
Hometown: Aberdeen, Scotland
Position: Center back
Club team: Utah Royals FC
Highlights: Started 23 of 24 games for the Royals in 2018 ... Has 109 caps for the Scotland national team ... Became a professional soccer player at 24 ... Worked for Earnst & Young as an accountant while playing soccer part-time ... Will serve as captain of Scotland in the nation’a first-ever Women’s World Cup.
Corsie’s full-time pro career began just five years ago. She had a job as an accountant while occasionally playing soccer with Glasgow City. She has called the decision to leave her ho-hum life as a numbers guru a “huge risk.”
“It was a huge gamble and as an accountant you don’t normally take those risks,” Corsie told Eurosport. “So it was very foreign to me, more so than others maybe. It’s paid off and I have learned so much along the way.”
After joined the National Women’s Soccer League in 2015 as a member of the the Seattle Reign FC. From there, she signed in 2018 with Utah, which had just recently started its franchise in the NWSL.
Royals coach Laura Harvey had Corsie on her roster with the Reign and currently has her with the Royals. She has had a front-row seat to Corsie’s ascension.
“I know the journey she’s been on, and what I’d say about Rach, is she’s very level-headed,” Harvey told Pro Soccer USA. “She’s got her head screwed on and she knows what it takes to be successful, not just in football but in life. Her experiences have turned her into a good leader, a good character around the team.”
Corsie has cemented her worth as a national team player. But that also comes with something of a price. She’s now acutely aware of what a good showing in the Women’s World Cup could mean for her country, and for all those people watching who have either never experienced Scotland soccer on the world stage, or who haven’t experienced it in decades.
“It is a little bit daunting to know that there’s a lot of people watching back home who haven’t experienced this for a long time,” Corsie said.
That reality means there might be some extra pressure felt by Corsie and her teammates. They want to win. Underachieving, whatever that may mean to themselves or outsiders, is almost not an option.
But Corsie is confident about Scotland’s chances.
“We just want to make everybody proud of what we can do,” Corsie said. “And we actually have a really great team and we believe that we can do really well.”
As captain of the national team, her coaches and teammates will look to her to get them through the rough moments that Scotland will almost surely endure. They’re in a group with legitimate contenders in England and Japan, and getting out of their group will be a challenge.
But this is the moment Corsie has been building toward for years, even if she didn’t know it as a 9-year-old. She’s captain of her home country’s soccer team. In a way, she’s leading all of Scotland, and she’s taking it all in stride.
"To lead any team is something that’s a real privilege,” Corsie told BBC Sport Scotland. “To lead your country, even more so.”