On The Road with Erin Cuthbert and Zecira Musovic
Travel comes with the territory of pro football. League-topping side Chelsea FC Women are as accustomed to packing their suitcases as they are lacing up their boots. International tournaments have them chasing goals and glory everywhere from Paris to Portland, as well as countless UK stadiums.
Midfielder Erin Cuthbert and goalkeeper Zećira Mušović are among the players who’ve made the Blues one of football’s most trophy-laden squads right now.
Football skills run in the Mušović family, it seems. The goalie caught the football bug from her older brother, who also went on to play in lower-division leagues, and began honing her powerful kick and shot-stopping abilities for a local Swedish team aged nine. With Serbian heritage, she also had some preparation for life on the road back then: Her family would take 24-hour road trips back to the Balkans for holidays.
Cuthbert made her Blues debut in 2017 during a game against Sweden’s Rosengård. Happiest in midfield, you’ll have seen the versatile Scot making her mark for Chelsea up front and as a wing-back in previous seasons.
Meanwhile, on the team bus, Cuthbert has perfected the position of entertainer. Just wait until you hear her rendition of The Script’s “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved.”
We’ve witnessed what they can do on the pitch, from magical saves to beautiful goals. Now, Mušović and Cuthbert have given us a behind-the-scenes peek at their time on the road through trivago’s On the Road series. Here are five things we learned about their travel style and team bus banter.
1. Choosing the Right Seat Is Everything
Back when Mušović was road-tripping to the Balkans with her family, the most important thing was packing the perfect assortment of sweets. As a Chelsea pro, it’s all about finding a spot on the bus that suits your vibe.
A seat next to a like-minded soul is a must and for Mušović, that’s not Cuthbert: “There’s a reason why you sit at the back of the bus, and I sit more in front,” she says, joking.
There’s no offence taken, though. “I wouldn’t like to sit next to anybody that’s super quiet and reserved. They’d probably rip my head off and get sick of me,” laughs Cuthbert.
For instance, you probably won’t find Cuthbert and forward Pernille Harder sat together for long, either. “I feel like she couldn’t have five hours with me. I’m very scatty and erratic. She likes to watch Netflix, have her routine, eat at certain times, have a coffee at certain times. I’d be like, spilling the coffee on her stuff…”
We’re beginning to better understand Harder’s choice of must-have travel accessory: a pair of ear plugs.
2. The Bus Is Alive with the Sound of Music
Those ear plugs may come in especially handy when Cuthbert gets her karaoke on. She’s often heard belting out tunes by fellow Scot Lewis Capaldi and other ballads.
“When we’ve had a late one or had a bad result, I like a little bit of Adele or The Script. I’m singing from the chest, closing my eyes, my hands are everywhere, no one speak to me, no one film me…this is my moment!”
As Cuthbert points out, a bad result doesn’t happen often. We’re talking about the team that’s won a hat-trick of Women’s Super League titles in the last three seasons, after all. So you’re more likely to hear her leading victory sing-songs from the back of the bus.
Elsewhere, players are plugged into their own playlists. What’s pumping through Mušović’s headphones? “Stinking music,” according to Cuthbert. “It’s like ABBA and Queen and all that.”
The goalie is quick to defend her musical taste — and prove it’s not a Scandi requirement to love ABBA. “Do you like Beyonce? Do you like Dua Lipa? I don’t play ABBA!”
3. Team Bonding Is Even Better Abroad
While much travel for the Blues is all about the games, the team relishes any chance to hang out and have fun while abroad.
Take their pre-season tour in Portland, Oregon. “Some people had been at the Euros, some had been here for pre-season. It was nice to get everyone together, creating moments and memories that you can bring forward into the season,” explains Cuthbert.
Friendships forged on the pitch are strong, that’s for sure. So it’s no surprise some teammates take trips together in their downtime. For a perfect, post-WSL final celebration, Cuthbert and forward Sam Kerr had a blast in Barcelona, one of the best places for nightlife for football fans (or players).
The only sore point? Cuthbert can’t quite forgive teammate Guro Reiten for skipping the trip in favour of a visit to her home country.
“Who would rather go back to Norway than go to Barcelona? Honestly, people would snatch your hand off for that opportunity!”
4. Immerse Yourself in the Culture, Blues-Style
When it comes to getting to know a new holiday destination, you’ll catch Mušović ticking off local landmarks. Though she jokes, “I think you can find great culture on the dance floor as well.”
As well as having an economics degree and speaking out on social justice issues, the Swede is always quick to show off her sense of humour. Just read her Instagram bio for proof of that.
While Mušović might be seeking out culture and history, it’s Cuthbert who’s most likely to give speaking the language a go, testing her skills with local waiters. “Una cerveza, por favor! That was quite a broad Scottish accent — I need a wee bit of class, a wee bit of teaching practice, then I’m good to go.” She brings that same eagerness and enthusiasm to the pitch, one of many reasons she’s scored a fresh Blues contract until 2025.
5. There's No Place Like Home
Cuthbert and Mušović have racked up an impressive collection of passport stamps. But it’s their home countries they want you to visit next.
As was the case for many of us, COVID forced Cuthbert to swap faraway summer holidays for exploring what was on the doorstep. She made her way around some of the more remote ends of Scotland by campervan — beautiful places like Loch Lomond. “I was absolutely blown away. The place is amazing, it is gorgeous. Please go to Scotland!”
Likewise, Mušović recommends Sweden if beautiful nature is your thing. She takes great pride in representing the country — on and off the pitch — which welcomed her family when they fled the Yugoslavian war.
A chilled-out day on a lake is one way she likes to kick back when she’s back home in Sweden. Just don’t ask her for fishing tips anytime soon. “I was really bad at fishing. Maybe it looks like I know what I’m doing [on Instagram], but I’m probably holding the rod wrong!”
If Cuthbert and Mušović ever tire of collecting caps for their national teams, we’re sure there’s a job waiting for them on the national tourist boards instead.
All images belong to Chelsea FC Women | Source: @chelseafcw (Instagram)