Defender Jen Beattie has a list accomplishments she can point to across her lengthy soccer career: She scored a goal for Scotland in the Women’s World Cup, served as a television pundit and she was honored as a Member of the Order of the British Empire by Prince William.
Perhaps most significantly, she beat breast cancer.
Now she’s coming to America. Beattie is the latest player to join the National Women’s Soccer League expansion team Bay FC. The team announced Friday it had acquired her via transfer from Arsenal in the Women’s Super League.
“I was just ready for another challenge. I’m 32, 33 in May and I still feel like I’m competitive, still want to achieve things, and it just felt like the right time to you know, jump into something big and challenge myself in another way,” she said.
Beattie is the latest in a string of high-profile signings by Bay FC, which will begin play this March as the league’s 14th team. The team recently picked up Venezuelan international Deyna Castellanos and Asisat Oshoala of Nigeria via transfers.
Beattie had two stints with Arsenal. Her first was from 2009-13, and her second was from 2019 to this season. She has appeared in 135 WSL games with 13 goals and two assists.
Known as a versatile player, in recent years she’s typically played at center back but she’s also been a goal scorer. At the 2019 World Cup in France she scored for Scotland in a 3-3 draw with Argentina. It was Scotland’s first and only World Cup appearance.
“I definitely see myself as a center back. I feel like I’ve kind of pinned that down, that position, for the better part of a decade now. But oh my word, I absolutely loved my striker times. I did play that when I was a lot younger for Arsenal, in my kind of late teenage years and early 20s, and I absolutely loved it. There’s no better feeling than scoring goals,” she laughed.
Beattie retired from Scotland’s national team last year after a 15-year career with the team. She played in 143 games with 24 goals.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2020. She went public with her battle later that year, after hearing that people were putting off going to the doctor out of fear of COVID-19.
Beattie played through her radiotherapy treatments and is now cancer-free. But she decided to speak about her experience to convince others to be vigilant about getting screened. She partnered with Cancer Research UK.
“I was super serious in my 20s and I think that’s a great thing, but it can also hold you back from a lot of things. I was incredibly focused on football — and don’t get me wrong, I still completely am. But I was quite serious. And I think after all that it made me realize that this can all be taken away at any point,” she said. “I always appreciated my job but I appreciate it now more than ever. I fully understand that I have the best job in the entire planet.”
She was honored for her advocacy work, as well as her career on the field, last summer when she was bestowed with the prestigious MBE. She has a treasured photo of her family with Prince William.
“Honestly, it was one of the best days of my life. I don’t think when any kid gets into football, you never have that on your radar. There’s no way that’s ever a possibility. You just never see yourself in the same bracket as that caliber of people. When I got the call, I was completely in awe, completely in shock,” she said.
“The coolest thing for me the MBE wasn’t just for football. It was the services to charity,” she added. “That was something that I was most proud of.”
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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