More than 50 percent of Jen Beattie's life has been devoted to playing for Scotland. She was only 14 when she was first called up to her nation's under-19 squad, and she is now 31.
She made her senior debut when she was 16 years old and went on to win 144 caps, captain her nation, and guide Scotland to their first women's World Cup.
It is understandable why the team feels like a family. Since 2009, she has played her entire club career outside of Scotland, and she acknowledges that frequently, she has seen her teammates more often than her own family members.
I moved to England when I was 18 to play, then I moved to Montpellier, so I was always traveling, she told BBC Sport.
"The reason I've persevered so long is to get together every six to seven weeks to be with Scottish people, to be at home.
What I will miss most is hanging out with friends, competing for the badge, and doing things off the field. Being with friends for such a long time, that comfort when you're playing a lot. I think I saw them more often than my family. ".
She has been a part of this family as the women's game has exploded in Scotland, the United Kingdom, and other countries.
The biggest change since the beginning of her career, according to Beattie, is that Scotland's women now play all of their home matches at Hampden Park, as opposed to the early years of her career when they played all over the country, from McDiarmid Park to the Strathclyde Homes Stadium in Dumbarton.
She claims that participating at Hampden has had a significant impact on women's soccer. "We've always wanted to play at Hampden, and the fans' presence there has added to the magic.
"It is now Scotland's home, for both men and women. ".
"My family far from home.".
The Scotland team became even more like family to Beattie during the most difficult time in her life, outside of her career.
She received radiotherapy after receiving a breast cancer diagnosis in October 2020. She was able to carry on with her playing career and represent her country, and she claims that the support of her fellow countrywomen was crucial to her success in that battle.
It was very important to her at the time, and she always felt very grateful to be able to go to work, she said.
"The staff and team members were incredibly sympathetic to what I was going through. They evolved into my family in a distant location.
They didn't probe too deeply, though. All the help I required was given to me by them. My teammates were outstanding. ".
Beattie was able to continue representing Scotland during the qualifying rounds of the postponed European Championships, which were held in England last summer.
However, they took place without the Scots because they didn't qualify, and Beattie also experienced heartbreak regarding his failure to qualify for the World Cup taking place this summer in Australia and New Zealand.
At Hampden Park, she assisted Scotland in making it to the European Play-Off Final, where they lost to Ireland.
Beattie was instrumental in getting the Scottish women to their first two major tournaments, the 2019 World Cup in France, where she scored against Argentina in the group stage, which she ranked as the pinnacle of her individual accomplishments for her nation, and the Euro 2017 that she was forced to miss due to injury.
But Beattie acknowledges that failing to qualify for the 2023 edition served as a catalyst for her decision to hang up her international tennis racquets.
She acknowledges, "I wouldn't be leaving right now if Scotland had qualified. The disappointment was great.
We've experienced tournament football, so missing Euros and a subsequent major event is extremely disappointing, especially given the knowledge that you have talent on the international stage.
"Beating Austria then losing to Ireland is a tough way to miss qualifying, and it's even harder when you see all these players in the dressing room, like Erin Cuthbert and Caroline Weir, who deserve to be on the international stage. They are the most talented Scottish team ever.
"I'm confident that this is the best course of action for me, but they're a great group and get along well. There are no ill will or hard feelings at all; I'm just taking a break to focus on other personal and professional endeavors. That team is filled with incredible talent. ".
"It has meant everything," the speaker said.
Beattie has no immediate plans to stop performing, but leaving the international stage has her thinking about the future.
This season, she has joined Arsenal as a player-coach and has been tasked with serving as an ambassador for the team.
She is most eager to eventually move to the other side of the interviewer's microphone, though.
She states, "Broadcasting is what I'm most interested in.". "It keeps you engaged in the activity and enables you to talk about it continuously. Now that I'm retired, I'll put my efforts into these pursuits to see what I enjoy. ".
"Potentially!" she responded when asked if she might ever interview a captain of Scotland.
although not right away. At the club level, she has a lot she wants to accomplish.
"I'm still so competitive," she declares, "and that's such a crucial message I want to convey.
"I still want to play club football for a few more years; I'm still at Arsenal; I want to play and win trophies. The club is making me very happy. There is still a ton left. ".
However, the journey is over with Scotland. Beattie has continued the legacy of her father John and brother Johnnie, both of whom played rugby union for their respective nations. For the British Lions, Beattie Sr. also participated in sports.
She feels proud of herself as she steps away after matching the other memories of the Beattie clan after 144 caps, an MBE, and countless wonderful memories.
Sports have always played a significant role in her family, she says, with both her father and brother competing for Scotland. I'm incredibly appreciative of it.
"Representing your country, feeling Scottish and being Scottish, wearing that blue shirt, singing that anthem with those fans—there is no greater feeling.".
Everything has meant by it.