After one phone call with midfielder Sarah Teegarden, new Ghirl Mariah Lee had no doubts about singing on the dotted line, with the American becoming the first of four winter signings for Fran Alonso.
Lee linked up with the Hoops from NWSL side OL Reign (formerly Seattle Reign) in the winter transfer window, with the attacker keen to make her mark on the Scottish game as the SWPL1 gears up for it’s highly-anticipated return.
“I’m just excited to get started, it feels good to be back out training especially,” she began.
“I heard about Celtic and knew about the name and recognition especially on the men’s side and then I was looking at the roster and saw Sarah Teegarden’s name, and we both played at Wake Forest. She's a couple of years older than me, but I got her number and was talking to her on the phone about her experience and she spoke really highly of the club and the competition and I felt like it would be a good fit after hearing what she said.
“She came back to college for a game I was playing in, and we actually had a lot of mutual friends so we met. We never played together, but it’s a small soccer world so I knew of her.”
Like most of Alonso’s signings, Lee has experienced a unique and perhaps trying start to life in Scotland, given public lockdown restrictions and the extended shutdown of women’s football. But the Seattle native is raring to put that behind and kick on with her new squad as pre-season gets fully underway.
“I was getting a little impatient, especially when they kept pushing it back, but rest is good and I got to train on my own and focus on individual work, but I’m glad to finally be out here with the team and play. I’m just glad to get going and get games in,” she told.
Along with impressive experience playing in the NWSL and Switzerland, the 24-year-old also boasts further athletic prowess, having balanced football with an accomplished track career in her school days, picking up a state champion medal in the process.
“I ran track back in the day and competed nationally and then with my high school. We were really good and won state, but that was a long time ago,” she laughed.
“I just try to keep my technique up and be efficient so I really focus on it, but I haven't put on spikes and ran on the track like that in years and years.”
And she’s hoping to mirror her success in the spikes in her boots as she tells Celtic fans what they can expect from her: “Anywhere on the forward line would be my place. I play on the wing a lot but I can play central so just being threatening on the front line is my game.
“I’m looking to win games, score some goals, get assists and make a name for myself and make an impact for the team.”
Celtic return to SWPL1 action at home to Glasgow City on Sunday 4 April in a 2pm kick-off.
Image: Celtic FC
Reporter: Colette Carr