Jamie-Lee Napier: Scotland Under-19 midfielder loving life at Chelsea

By Jane LewisBBC Scotland
'I want to kick on and show Chelsea what I can do'

Jamie-Lee Napier has had a tantalising glimpse of what it takes to succeed at the top level after a three-month crash course among Chelsea's superstars.

The Scotland Under-19 midfielder was under no illusions that the elevation from Hibernian to the full-time professional game would be a huge challenge.

But it is one she has attacked with relish, and she is desperate to get going again after her step up to the big time was halted by coronavirus.

When Napier and Chelsea return to action, with September a possible start date for the new season, it will be as champions. The London club were elevated from second to top when the Women's Super League was called on a points-per-game basis last week.

Napier, who made four appearances towards the end of the curtailed season after her move in December, is of no doubt that working with the likes of Sam Kerr and Millie Bright has already raised her game.

"I learned so much in just the three months I've been here," she told BBC Scotland.

"It felt like home straight away. I loved it, training and playing with some of the best players in the world. It takes time to get used to the professional set-up and intensity.

"Every player is always helping me in training. They give me encouragement or tell me what I could be doing better, and there's staff at the end of training if I want to stay behind and work on things.

"I can feel myself getting better with every session."

'I want to follow Erin into Scotland squad'

Jamielee Napier in action for Hibernian
Napier experienced Champions League football with Hibernian

At Hibs, Napier won two SWPL Cups, the Scottish Women's Cup and qualified for the last 32 of the Women's Champions League.

But the chance to prove herself at Chelsea was too good an opportunity to turn down. Especially as it allowed her to link up with compatriot Erin Cuthbert, the Scotland forward who Napier cites as an "inspiration".

"We've been friends for years so it made the move easier," said Napier.

"When I was deciding what to do, I was speaking a lot to her. She obviously understands it all, being young and moving to one of the biggest clubs in the world.

"The jump from the Scottish to the English league, I don't think you can actually describe it until you do it. It's massive, but I want to challenge myself, I want to play at the highest level.

"I knew I wasn't going to play every week, but I don't think there's a better chance to improve than when you're young and you've got all your years to come playing."

The midfielder recently turned 20 and, now settling in to a new flat in South London, is desperate to resume training as she looks to fulfil her ambition of joining Cuthbert in the Scotland team.

"That's always been a big dream of mine," she said. "I've been in the youth set-ups from Under-15 to Under-19.

"When I got my first call it was just a training camp, but it was massive for me.

"The Euro qualifiers are coming up. I just want to kick on now, get my head down, work hard and improve and hopefully I can get into that squad and show [Scotland head coach] Shelley [Kerr] that she can trust me."