Chelsea and Scotland striker Erin Cuthbert will be writing columns for the BBC Sport website over the coming weeks as the national team prepare to compete in their first World Cup – in France this summer.

What do you get David Luiz for his birthday? My Chelsea team-mates and I spent a chunk of last week trying to work that out after we were invited to his 32nd birthday party.

I mean, this is a guy who’s got everything he could possibly want. He’s played for Brazil at a World Cup, won the Champions League and Europa League with Chelsea, and played for Paris St-Germain. A Lynx Africa boxset isn’t going to do the job, is it?

In the end, me and the girls clubbed together and got him champagne, flowers and a Chelsea Women’s top and went to his fancy dress party at Stamford Bridge, which he’d invited all the players and staff to. The only problem was what to go as. Three of the girls went as Shrek, Donkey and Fiona, but I ended up going as Braveheart. I had the face painted, a tartan hat and even a wee shield.

David is a really good guy. I’ve spoken to him a few times and he messages me on Instagram when I score or whatever. He watched the first leg of our Champions League quarter-final against PSG and gave me some tips about what it is defenders don’t like coming up against.

Erin Cuthbert

We’re used to mixing with the men’s players because both teams are based at Cobham, which is an incredible place. I’m not joking when I say there must be 40 pitches there and every one of them is perfect. We’re in a different building from the men but we use a lot of their facilities, so I was in the hot and cold pools the other day and there were a few of the guys around.

We also had Michael Essien, who played in Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea teams, training with us a week or two back – and he was not holding back one bit. We were doing rondos, where you have one or two players in the middle of a circle trying to intercept the ball, and he was flying around the place and doing nutmegs and all sorts. None of us left a foot in, though, because were were all a bit wary about getting injured before the Champions League games.

In the end, we narrowly went out at the semi-final stage against Lyon on Sunday – the same day Arsenal succeeded us as league champions. Not a great end to the week.

‘What I thought was the washing machine was the tumble dryer’

Sometimes I do sit back and think, ‘wow, how has this happened’, because some of the things I’m experiencing down here are bonkers.

Last week I was named in the PFA team of the year and scored in a Champions League semi-final. Then I’ve hopefully got a World Cup to look forward to in the summer.

But a year and a half ago I was studying at the University of the West of Scotland and playing part-time for Glasgow City. I was miles away from where I am now, both in terms of location and what I’m like as a player and a person.

I remember my dad driving me down in January 2017 when I joined Chelsea. I was fine about it until I realised that I had to put some washing on and I was clueless. I’d cooked and stuff when I was living at home, but my mum did my washing for me. I remember she told me to send her a picture of the machine and she’d tell me which buttons to push, so I did… or at least I thought I had. Turned out it was the tumble dryer.

I was 18-and-a-half and was living in a house with three of the other girls. Ji So-yun from Korea was one, and the other two lived in England, so quite often they went home. Quite often I felt a bit alone, shut away in my room wondering what to do. I couldn’t restart my business degree with the Open University until the October, so I had 10 months of watching Netflix. It’s what I suppose a gap year must be like.

I’m in my own flat now – it’s in Weybridge in Surrey – which has made a huge difference. It’s near the training ground and you can go home and close the door behind you and don’t have that awkwardness of asking your flat-mates if they mind your da’ coming to stay. You don’t realise how intense it is, working and living with the same people, either, so I’m probably more sociable now, too.

Mind you, they don’t take any prisoners down here when it comes to the roads – there are maniacs all over the place – it’s not like Irvine where everyone is giving way all over the place.

London feels a long, long way from Ayrshire sometimes, and in loads of different ways.

Erin Cuthbert was speaking to BBC Sport’s Richard Winton


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