Arsenal and England legend Faye White paid tribute to Kim Little as the Gunners’ midfielder became the inaugural winner of the PFA Women’s Player of the Year award.
White presented the award to Little at the PFA’s annual gala at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel last night, and said: “Kim has risen to every challenge that has been put in front of her.”
After beginning her career in Scotland with Buchan Girls and Hibernian Ladies, Kim made little time in making her mark south of the border after joining the Gunners in March 2008.
Following her goalscoring contribution in a 4-1 win over Chelsea the following month, then manager Vic Akers had no qualms in telling reporters at the time ‘make a note of this kid, she is going to be a big player’.
True to form Vic wasn’t wrong, and Kim didn’t disappoint as she played in almost every one of Arsenal’s league games during the 2008-09 season, scoring 24 goals as her reputation soared. But then came Little’s biggest challenge to date.
Filling the huge void left by the departure of the legendary Kelly Smith was always going to be a big ask but Kim made light of the task, scored goals galore (an amazing 47 in all competitions) and was named Players' Player of the Year in June 2010. At the 2011 FA Women's Cup final, Little was named Player of the Match and scored the opening goal in Arsenal's 2–0 win over Bristol Academy. After the game Arsenal manager Laura Harvey described Little as ‘world class’.
Kim has continued to live up to that billing, both for club and country, and has clocked up over 80 appearances for Scotland, and made a proud contribution to the Great Britain team at the Olympics.
Her goals-per-game ratio for Arsenal is better than one a match, and Faye White added: “What she has done for our football club since she joined is nothing short of fantastic.
“She has great pace over the first five yards; the ability to move into open spaces; the awareness to bring others into play; expose the opposition defence – and score goals.
“When Kelly (Smith) left and Kim was presented with the opportunity to fill her boots, she didn’t flinch. There was a lot of weight on her young shoulders but she rose to the challenge. She has been the playmaker, the person that makes things happen, and has taken on Kelly’s mantle so well.”
And a final word from the PFA’s first ever Women’s Player of the Year herself. Kim said: “It is a great night for me. For various years I have watched this event on television so to come here and win the first award is fantastic."