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Suzanne Lappin will become the first ever player to captain Scotland in the Finals of a major women's football tournament next week when she leads her country into the UEFA Under-19 Championships in Hungary. The 18-year-old midfielder told Women's Soccer Scene of her pride at this honour. "I'm really excited, and being captain is really special," said Suzanne. "We're going to be playing at a new level, and I can't wait."
Scotland have swept into the Finals in style with six wins from their six qualifying games, scoring 33 times and conceding just the one goal - against Israel in the second half of their final qualifier. Despite their excellent form, Suzanne is keeping her feet on the ground. "We shall be going into the tournament as underdogs," she admits, "but our record in the qualifying rounds speaks for itself. We're going out to enjoy ourselves and have nothing to prove, but a lot to gain."
Scotland have been drawn in a tough group in the Finals, they must play France - winners two years ago - along with Russia and England, who will be their first opponents. "We will be up for it against England and playing them first is a great incentive, but rest assured we will be going out with the same mentality in all of our matches," insists Suzanne. "We played England at under-17 level and beat them 5-3, and we drew 0-0 with them in our qualifying group last season so we know that we are capable of beating them.
"I don't know too much against France or Russia as I have never played against them, we know their results but taking them on will be a new experience for us."
So what has been the secret of Scotland's success at under-19 level this season? "It's a team effort, and that includes the whole squad," replies Suzanne. "That is why we've been so successful as it is a well balanced team. We know each other well and have a lot of experience of playing with each other as we have been together for a while now."
Suzanne has also had a great time at club level, as her club Glasgow City lifted the Scottish Women's Premier League title last season and they have qualified for the UEFA Women's Cup for the first time, having been drawn against Saestum (Holland), Athletic Club (Spain) and Rapide Wezemaal (Belgium). "We've got Europe to look forward to and this will be a new experience for the club, and one that we are really looking forward to," she says.
With Scotland's continuing improvement on the women's international stage, can girls take inspiration from the team's qualification? "This should give the younger girls more incentive," says Suzanne. "There are some good players in the younger age groups who can step into our places. No one expected us to get here this time and we have proved to them that it is achievable.
"Our new Head Coach, Anna Signeul, has come in and is looking at all the players in the league. The standard of play in Scotland has increased in the last couple of years and the future is really bright."
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