Glasgow City wrapped up the title last week, but Emma Black is adamant that Celtic’s season isn’t finished yet

Exclusive interview: Tony Connelly

EMMA Black is nearing the end of her first season at Celtic and the Hoops defender is hoping her experience can help the side achieve their goal of second spot in the league.

With 10 league titles and 40 Scotland caps to her name, Black took a break from football in 2015 to focus on raising her family, but she returned to the sport to help Motherwell gain promotion before signing for Celtic.

She’s played her part in helping Celtic make massive progress so far this season and is hopeful that will continue as the campaign nears its end.

How is the mood within the squad after the return to action in the form of a 5-0 win?
That was a good result considering we’ve let ourselves down the first time we played Motherwell this season when we drew 0-0. We knew we had a big win like that coming because we’d been working hard in training. The games were limited coming into that game so everyone was just eager to get out and play.

Does a big win like that take on more significance when everything is so tight towards the end of the season?
Absolutely. At the start of the season we set ourselves a target to at least finish second and we felt as if that slipped away from us a bit recently after the losses to Hibs and Glasgow City in September. It’s good now that we’re regularly getting comfortable victories against the teams below us in the league. It just shows how far the club’s come this season.

There’s less than a month left in the campaign. How is the season run in looking?
We’re still optimistic that we can finish in second. We have three games remaining and we have Glasgow City to play as well. If we can go out and do the job against them and then we have to look for Hibs to drop points. They have a greater goal difference, so it’ll be tight, but it’s possible. It’s been a long time since things have been this close with Celtic competing against City and Hibs, so there have been massive improvements and we can take pride in that.

Does the experience of winning 10 league titles give you an insight into what is need to achieve the season targets?
There are fine margins at this level and I try to pass on my experience to the other players while staying on top of my game. I know what it takes to win the league and to play Champions League matches and international games, and it’s a lot of hard work. You can’t instil that work ethic into individuals who don’t have that, or try to coach desire. That’s something that has to be in each of the players and this team has that.

How have you found the challenge of playing football at a high level while working and raising a family?
I feel like I’ve learned to manage my time better. I’m a Mum now and I’m working too, whereas previously I was playing football full-time. I’m more disciplined which has helped, but I don’t have time to recover fully. I’m training four times a week with the club on top of working and taking my daughter, Sophia, to swimming lessons so it’s difficult. I don’t have the time to recover between training sessions and games and I’d like to do extra training sessions, but there’s just not enough time in the week for me to do that. You effectively give up your full life to play because we’re still amateurs at this point. We spend a lot of time away from family and friends so it is difficult.

How has this season been for you on a personal note?
I feel like I need to improve my fitness a bit more. I need to review my time management to get in some extra sessions away from training. At the start of the season, I had a little niggle but I think that’s a combination of getting a bit older and not having enough time to properly recover. I really wanted the squad to get to a cup final, that was one of our aims, and I’m gutted we never managed to do that. Eddie was away at the time due to personal circumstances so we missed him for the quarter-final against Glasgow City. That was a big turning point in the season because that was a game that could have defined our season and Eddie wasn’t able to be there to guide us through.

Do you feel like you’ve closed the gap on Glasgow City’s long-standing dominance?
The two games this season have been 1-0 and 2-1 so it just shows you that we’re competing. I know a lot of the City players and they said to me after the games that they can feel like it’s coming and we’re going to get a win over them. We play them in the league on November 4, so that’ll be another big game. If we manage to get a victory over them it’ll be a massive achievement. There are players chapping on the door at international level as well. That’s massive for the team to have that turnaround in players because in the past we weren’t competing against them and we weren’t getting a look in.

What’s been the highlight of the season for you?
I think beating Hibs because it had been six years since we’d last beat them. I was injured for that game, but I still came on and played a part. The 3-1 win over Rangers in August after the summer break was another highlight.


Emma Black - Defender


Apps: 18

DOB: 12/03/1987

Signed: January 2019

EMMA Black’s first season at Celtic coincides with another career landmark, with 2019 marking 15 years since her debut season in senior football. Having started life as a striker before moving to defence at Glasgow City, Black's many career highlights include scoring Glasgow City’s first ever European goal with her effort against Athletic Bilbao in 2006. In 11 years at City, Emma accrued 10 league titles, five League Cups and seven Scottish Cups, clinching a phenomenal treble treble. In 2015, she retired from the game to concentrate on raising her family, before she made a return to football under Eddie Wolecki Black at Motherwell last season, where they enjoyed an invincible league season which resulted in promotion to SWPL1 and a Scottish Cup runner’s-up medal. Having amassed 40 caps for Scotland, Emma attributes Wolecki Black’s influence in helping her bridge the gap between Scotland under-19s and the A-Squad with his moving her into a defender’s role. A full-back who enjoys moving up the pitch, Black explains her style as, ‘attacking and physical. I like to get forward.’

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