Women's Scottish Cup final: I thought my career was over - Motherwell's Maxine Welsh
|Women's Scottish Cup final: Hibernian v Motherwell|
|Venue: Firhill Stadium, Glasgow Date: Sunday, 4 November Kick-off: 16:10 GMT|
|Coverage: Live on BBC Alba and on the BBC Sport Scotland website|
At the start of this year, Maxine Welsh thought she would never play football again. On Sunday, the defender will walk out at Firhill for a Scottish Cup final.
Aged 20, Welsh had given up on football. Repeated attempts to battle back after tearing her anterior cruciate ligament two years ago had only ended in more pain and frustration.
But one phone call from coach Eddie Wolecki Black gave her the belief to try again. And, on Sunday in front of a live TV audience, she will line-up for Motherwell against Hibernian.
"I didn't think I would ever be on this stage," Welsh told BBC Scotland. "I was trying to come back and it just wasn't working.
"I just thought that was it. I dropped out of coaching, I obviously wasn't able to play football - I took myself out of the game completely.
"Eddie gave me a call in May and asked me to come back into Motherwell and that's when I found my drive for football again."
Despite being understandably concerned about suffering another injury set-back, she could not say no to Wolecki Black, under whom she came through the Glasgow City youth system, when asked to help with Motherwell's promotion push.
"I had been back a few times," she said. "I'd been excited about it and then hurt myself again. It was just that cycle of disappointment.
"But Eddie didn't have to coax me into it. If Eddie asks any player, you jump at the chance. He's got such a good track record, he's such a great manager."
Under Wolecki Black, Motherwell took firm control of the SWPL 2 title, eventually finishing the season 21 points ahead of nearest rivals Kilmarnock.
That success helped convince Celtic to make Wolecki Black their new head coach, with Donald Jennow taking over Motherwell at the end of August.
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Jennow has already made his mark, leading Motherwell past top-flight Spartans in the semi-final.
Hibernian will provide an altogether different proposition on Sunday. Searching for their sixth domestic knockout cup win in a row, they missed out on the league title by the slimmest of margins - losing just one game all season.
Welsh says Motherwell are happy to be underdogs, after being written off at the start of the season.
"The girls were older - people thought the squad wouldn't amount to much," she added. "But they've won the league unbeaten and then progressed to the Scottish Cup final.
"It gave us extra motivation. No-one likes to hear that people are putting you down. To go out and show them and then beat Spartans - a top flight team - I think it just shows what we're capable of.
"We're all looking forward to it, competing against the best players in the country. We've got nothing to lose and we're just really excited and relishing the challenge.
"It's just going to top off our season, whether we win or not. I think we deserve it after the season we've had."