DUTCH internationalist Tessel Middag, whose signing was announced by Rangers in midweek, is a prestigious addition to Scottish football.
The 28-year-old arrived from Fiorentina, having previously played for ADO Den Haag, Ajax, Manchester City and West Ham.
As Rangers head coach Malky Thomson confirmed, the 44-times capped midfielder is not only a player of considerable experience and ability, but a resolute and multi-faceted individual.
Middag’s spell in Italy allowed her to become proficient in a fourth language, and she is an avid reader with an interest in history and politics. She has also done some football commentary work – both for Dutch and German TV channels.
“It was pretty challenging to do a live commentary in another language,” Middag told Her Football Hub in the course of an insightful interview earlier this year.
The player was in the Netherlands squad for the 2015 World Cup play-off matches against Scotland, staying on the bench for her side’s 2-1 win at Tynecastle and coming on as a late substitute for the 2-0 win in Rotterdam,
Middag would have won many more caps had it not been for suffering two ACL injuries which blighted her four years in England. The first, crushingly, came just a month before Euro 2017 – and shortly after she had started in pre-tournament friendlies against France and Iceland.
A certainty to play a big role in a memorable home Euros, Middag was denied not only a winners’ medal, but the opportunity to be part of the euphoric receptions which followed in Amsterdam, where she was born and brought up, and elsewhere.
The second ACL tear came just over a year later, shortly after she’d made her comeback from the first. Her move to Fiorentina in 2020 opened a new chapter and she played in both last season’s Champions League last 16 ties against old club Manchester City.
“She’s a fantastic human being – somebody who is worldly and seen a lot of life,” Middag’s new head coach Thomson confirmed. “She’s a real football player and such a nice person who can articulate herself in any conversation to a high level.”
Middag’s arrival meant internationalists from nine different countries will be playing in Scotland this year – and it became ten the following day when Glasgow City signed Israeli Vital Kats.
AND ANOTHER THING . . .
THERE are a number of ground changes for the new SWPL season, which gets underway this afternoon with eight League Cup ties.
In the top division, Glasgow City have moved back to Petershill Park from Broadwood, Celtic have replaced Motherwell at the Penny Cars Stadium, and Hibernian have moved from Ainslie Park to the Tony Macaroni Arena.
Motherwell will now play at Alliance Park, the home of Lowland League side Caledonian Braves. This despite the ground not being compliant with the SWF requirement to have a minimum of 199 covered seats.
Motherwell have been given until December 12 to make it happen – or find somewhere else to play their home games.
Glasgow City will have a new landlord at Petershill as the Partick Thistle Charitable Trust has taken over the venue. SWPL2 Thistle and City will both play at the ground.
The venue will host arguably the pick of today’s cup matches – Thistle, who only lost out on promotion last season because of goal difference, host Celtic.
Worryingly for the latter, who have Champions League football later this month, they lost a second hugely influential player on Friday. Lisa Robertson, who was SWPL1 player-of-the-season in 2020-21, has joined the league’s second top scorer, Sarah Ewens, at Birmingham City on a season’s loan.
AND ANOTHER THING . . .
THE Canadian players will forever cherish their Olympic gold medals, but the largely botched penalty shoot-out which gave them victory over Sweden in Friday’s final summed up the second-rate nature of the tournament.
That Germany and France, ranked second and third in the world, weren’t even involved says it all. As did the participation of a composite side from three footballing nations (two of which didn’t qualify for the competition).
With the World Cup and Euros becoming ever more prestigious, attracting huge global audiences, the Olympic tournament will become even more of an irrelevance.
AND FINALLY . . .
THE curtain has finally dropped on Leanne Ross’s remarkable playing career. The most decorated Scottish player of all time turned 40 last month and will now focus on being Glasgow City’s assistant coach.
She will continue to exert a considerable influence, but, having played every position apart from goalkeeper and worn the armband with authority and distinction, Ross will be a big loss on the pitch.