Julie Fleeting MBE (born 18 December 1980), whose married name is Julie Stewart, is a Scottish international footballer who plays as a striker for Scottish Women's Premier League club Kilwinning Ladies. Previously, Fleeting spent nine years at English club Arsenal Ladies and had represented San Diego Spirit as a full–time professional in WUSA.
According to the Scottish Football Association, Fleeting has a record of 116 goals and 120 caps for Scotland since making her debut in 1996. She was awarded an MBE in the June 2008 Queen's Birthday Honours list. She has also represented Scotland in the sport of basketball.
Fleeting's father is ex–professional player and current Scottish Football Association Director of Football Development Jim Fleeting. Former Kilmarnock owner Bobby Fleeting is her uncle. She also has a brother named Barry who played football at Junior level. A teacher by trade, she has taught Physical Education in St Matthew's Academy in Saltcoats, North Ayrshire; Charleston Academy, Inverness and—since 2008—Auchenharvie Academy in Stevenston, North Ayrshire. Fleeting married goalkeeper Colin Stewart in June 2005. They became a couple when Fleeting was playing for Ayr United and Stewart was coming through the youth ranks at Kilmarnock, having met through Jim Fleeting's friendship with Colin's father Jim Stewart. The wedding at St Mary's Church in Irvine was attended by Scottish football notables including Tommy Burns, Jim Leighton and Ian Durrant. Fleeting, known to team mates as Fleets, retained her maiden name for football purposes.
In 2007 Fleeting was named as Scotland's Sports Personality of the Year. She was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2008 Birthday Honours,collecting the medal in November of that year in a Buckingham Palace ceremony hosted by Prince Charles. On 23 December 2008, Fleeting announced she was pregnant with her first child and ruled herself out of participation in the remainder of the football season.She gave birth to a daughter, Ella, on 27 July 2009. In February 2012 it was reported that Fleeting and husband Colin were expecting their second child.Sophia Jane, a girl weighing 7Ibs 3ozs arrived at 11:03pm on 28 April 2012.
In June 2009, Fleeting was inducted into the University of Edinburgh's Sports Hall of Fame alongside Graeme Randall, Gregor Townsend and Chris Hoy. In 2011, Fleeting became an ambassador of Street Soccer for women's football in 2011.
Fleeting began her football career aged nine with Cunninghame Boys Under–10s. Fleeting, the only girl playing in the entire league, also helped St Winning's Primary School beat 1,000 other schools to the 1992 national championship. The competition was sponsored by Tudor Crisps and Fleeting's school prevailed 1–0 in the final at Ibrox Stadium. She joined Prestwick Girls when SFA rules barred her from mixed football at age 12. In April 1995, Fleeting scored twice as Prestwick beat Cumbernauld Cosmos 7–5 in the final of the Under–16 Scottish Cup. The following season Prestwick came under the auspices of Ayr United, and the Sunday Mail newspaper was already describing Fleeting as: "the most gifted young footballer in Scotland." After finishing school in 1998 she resisted overtures from American Universities to continue playing for Ayr while training to become a PE teacher at Moray House School of Education. Fleeting explained that: "I was only young when I had to decide which university to go to, and at the time, Edinburgh was far enough away from home. But when I graduate I will still only be 21 and young enough to go abroad if I want to."
In the 2001 Scottish Women's Cup final at Almondvale Stadium, Fleeting scored a hat-trick but Ayr lost on penalties to local rivals Kilmarnock after a 3–3 draw. Having already won the league championship, Ayr manager Hugh Flynn consoled his players with the prospect of participation in the following season's inaugural UEFA Women's Cup. In November 2001 Ayr hosted the group stage mini tournament after original hosts Toulouse had their ground damaged byan explosion at a factory. Fleeting found the net in draws with Osijek and Chernihiv but Ayr were eliminated after a third draw with Toulouse.
As the 2001–02 season progressed and graduation neared, Fleeting began to consider her options: "I'm considering America but as it's the top league in the world the competition will be fierce. Italy or England are possibilities although it's a shame I must leave Scotland to make a career in football." When an offer came to join San Diego Spirit in June 2002, Fleeting departed Ayr United after nine years, as the club captain and with around 300 goals to her credit.She did so with the blessing of national team coach Vera Pauw, who had encouraged Fleeting to turn professional and make a living from the sport.
In moving to California Fleeting signed a one–year contract, with an option for a further three years. She arrived mid–season, with San Diego Spirit languishing near the foot of the WUSA table. The move had been called into question when the coach who signed Fleeting was sacked, but general manager and interim coach Kevin Crow sanctioned the deal. On 10 July 2002 Fleeting made her professional debut, setting up San Diego's first goal in a 3–2 defeat atBoston Breakers four minutes after entering play as a 54th minute substitute. Four days later she played her second match and scored her first goal, driving Shannon MacMillan's centre off the underside of the crossbar from 18 yards to put San Diego 2–1 ahead in a 2–2 draw at home to San Jose CyberRays. In Fleeting's third game on 20 July 2002 she scored a last–minute winner from close range as San Diego beat New York Power 1–0 at Mitchel Athletic Complex. She started a single–goal defeat to Washington Freedom, before bringing her goal tally to three in five games by putting San Diego ahead at home to Atlanta Beat. Unfortunately for Fleeting, Homare Sawa then scored twice as the Beat won 4–1 and extinguished the Spirit's hopes of making the play–offs.
Fleeting finished the campaign with three goals and one assist from eight games including seven starts. Of San Diego's four allotted foreign players Fleeting was the only one regularly starting games by the end of the season as the club finished seventh. She returned to Scotland during the off–season but expressed delight at the whole experience and was keen to return for more the following season: "I got to live near the beach on the California coast and play football as my job – it was amazing and I'd be delighted to go back." The Daily Record newspaper contrasted the poor performances of Scotland's male footballers with Fleeting's exploits in "setting the biggest women's football league in the world alight".
Fleeting's American team mates had initially named her Shrek, on account of her accent. An unimpressed Fleeting joked that she would prefer Fat Bastard, since the latter was actually Scottish. During the 2003 WUSA season she acquired a new nickname of Air Scotland after scoring a number of goals with her head. She had missed most of Spirit's pre–season while playing for Scotland but managed a 20-minute substitute appearance in an opening day defeat to Boston Breakers. The squad was much changed from the previous season and Fleeting now paired with Canadian striker Christine Latham in attack. Fleeting scored in the next four consecutive games, equalling the club record as San Diego began a seven–match unbeaten run. The team then hit a slump when Shannon MacMillan, the main supplier of Fleeting's goals, tore her anterior cruciate ligament. After scoring her ninth goal of the season, the equaliser in a 1–1 home draw with New York Power, Fleeting controversially mimicked a urinating dog whilst celebrating.
In the 2003 regular season Fleeting scored 11 goals from her 17 starts and single substitute appearance. San Diego finished third and qualified for the play–offs, where Aly Wagner put them ahead against Atlanta Beat, only for Conny Pohlers to level the match in the 90th minute. Charmaine Hooper won the semi–final tie for Atlanta with a golden goal in extra–time. Fleeting was named the team MVP at the end of year dinner, while her 11 goals and four assists were enough to clinch the club Golden Boot. In addition Fleeting was named to the All–WUSA Second Team.
Following the season Fleeting's next stop was the Scottish Highlands where partner Colin Stewart had transferred from Kilmarnock to Ross County. She signed on loan for Ross County's women's section and scored twice in a 5–3 win over Raith Rovers two days later. She explained: "I'm just happy to play anywhere. But I was going to be spending a lot of time up there seeing Colin anyway so it makes sense." Later in September 2003 WUSA collapsed with reported debts of $100m. Fleeting had also arrived back in Scotland just as her old club Ayr United folded. In December she was forced to miss some Ross County games in order to rest, but was still hopeful that the American professional league could be resurrected in some form: "I'm really hoping something comes of this. It will be great if it does all go ahead but I'm just waiting to see what happens at the moment. The target seems to be a restart of the full league in 2005 but with a series of exhibition games this year, which will still involve the foreign players."
"What does she add? Goals."– Arsenal manager Vic Akers on Fleeting in 2005
In January 2004 Fleeting signed for English club Arsenal Ladies. Under the terms of the agreement, Fleeting would continue to work as a PE teacher in Scotland from Monday to Friday and would train twice a week with the Under–21 section of local men's club Kilwinning Rangers. On Sunday mornings Fleeting was to catch a budget airline flight to London, where she would be met by Arsenal manager Vic Akers. After being briefed by Akers during the journey, Fleeting would then play in the match for Arsenal before flying back to Scotland late on Sunday evening. It was an arrangement which was to continue throughout Fleeting's time at Arsenal, despite the extensive travelling involved. In 2007 Fleeting said: "I can understand that people raise eyebrows about playing but not training with Arsenal. But when I arrive, they always give me a good briefing and, if there's something special that they've been working on during the week, it's explained to me before the game. It hasn't been a problem so far!
Fleeting bagged a brace on her Arsenal debut, in a 6–1 FA Women's Cup fifth round win over Middlesbrough played on 25 January 2004. In the next round of the Cup, played on 7 February, she scored a hat-trick in Arsenal's 11–1 demolition of Cardiff City, being substituted during the second half in order to catch an early flight home.
Fleeting continued to score regularly and hit the winner in 2–1 league victory at Leeds United on 7 March. Two weeks later, Fleeting scored in a 4–0 win at home to the same opponents. On the intervening weekend, she had scored the opening goal in a 2–0 semi final win over Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup. In April, Fleeting scored the only goal of the game against Charlton Athletic to leave the Gunners only two points behind Charlton in the league with a game in hand. Fleeting hit a hat-trick in an 8–0 destruction of relegated Aston Villa at home on 18 April, bringing her tally to 12 goals in eight appearances.
On 3 May, Fleeting scored a hat-trick for Arsenal in their FA Women's Cup Final win over Charlton Athletic, just a day after suffering a calf injury while playing the full game for Scotland and scoring against reigning World Champions Germany. It took her record to fifteen goals in nine games for Arsenal since joining in January. Arsenal sealed the league title on 15 May, as Fleeting scored the second goal in a 3–1 victory over Fulham before 5,000 fans at Highbury Stadium.
In November 2004, Fleeting scored in the UEFA Women's Cup quarter final second leg victory over Torres. She fired the decisive goal in a 3-2 win, with only eight minutes remaining. In December, Fleeting scored all three goals in Arsenal's Premier League Cup semi-final victory against Birmingham City.
In February 2005, Fleeting netted twice in a 3-0 over Birmingham City in the quarter finals of the FA Cup.
Fleeting hit a total of twenty-four goals for Arsenal over the course of the season, while she was the recipient of the FA Women's Players' Player of the Year at the end of season annual FA awards for women's football in England.
In January 2006, Fleeting scored twice in a 4-1 defeat of Cardiff City in an FA Cup fourth round match. In January, she followed this up by scoring the opener and winning the penalty that made it 2-0 in a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa in a fifth round match of the FA Cup.
In February, Fleeting netted the first goal for Arsenal in a 6-1 defeat of Sunderland.
On 1 May, Fleeting scored in a 5-0 FA Cup final win against Leeds United. Fleeting hit a total of 17 goals in 15 appearances for Arsenal throughout the season, before spending the summer of 2006 on a month's loan in Iceland withValur. Husband Colin was also in Iceland at the time, playing for Grindavík. Fleeting netted four times in three games for Valur before returning to the UK.
Fleeting was an integral part of the all–conquering Arsenal side of 2006–07 that stormed to a historic quadruple. This included a domestic treble; Premier League, FA Cup and Premier League Cup. And the biggest prize of all, the UEFA Women's Cup in which Fleeting played the full one hundred and eighty minutes of the two–legged final as Arsenal overcame Umea 1–0 on aggregate.
In October, in the UEFA Women's Cup quarter finals, Fleeting notched a double in the 5–0 first leg home win on the 12th and the opener in the 4–1 second leg victory on the 19th against Breiðablik. In domestic competition, Fleeting broke the deadlock against Everton as Arsenal prevailed 4–1. She scored in the semi–final return leg in the UEFA Women's Cup against Brondby in a 3–0 victory in December.
In October 2007, Fleeting netted three times for Arsenal in the second round group stages of the UEFA Women's Cup. On 13 October, Fleeting bagged a brace in a 7–0 win over Neulengbach and on 16 October, she hit the opener in the final group game; a 3–3 draw against Bardolino Verona.
In February 2008, Fleeting scored twice in a 5–2 win over Liverpool. Later that month she played as Arsenal were shocked 1–0 by Everton in the FA Women's Premier League Cup Final. It was Arsenal's first defeat in 58 domestic matches, stretching back two years. In the 2008 FA Women's Cup Final against Leeds United, Fleeting entered play as a 75th–minute substitute. Her shot which hit the post was turned in by team–mate Kelly Smith for Arsenal's final goal in their 4–1 win.
In November 2008, Fleeting scored against Umea at home in the UEFA Women's Cup quarter final first leg to make it 2–2, before a late goal from Kim Little won the game for Arsenal. Fleeting watched the return leg from the substitutes' bench, as Arsenal were thrashed 6–0.
In December 2008, Fleeting announced she would be taking time out from the game on the advice of Arsenal's medical team, after discovering she was pregnant with her first child. With her due date at some point in July 2009, it meant she would be unavailable until the following summer at the earliest.
In April 2010, a few days after appearing in her first matches for Scotland since taking time out from the game, she scored the first goal in Arsenal's FA Cup semi-final win over Chelsea. Fleeting who had just returned to regular action, having not played a full ninety minutes all season, was identified by Arsenal manager Laura Harvey as the player who could "inspire" Arsenal to a fifth successive Premier League and FA Cup double. In May's FA Women's Cup Final, Fleeting scored Arsenal's second equaliser of the match to level the scores at 2–2 against Everton but Arsenal lost 3-2 in extra time.
Fleeting scored the second goal in Arsenal's 2–0 win over Bristol Academy in the 2011 FA Women's Cup Final in May. In the inaugural 2011 FA WSL, Fleeting scored twice in her 11 appearances for champions Arsenal.
In February 2013, Scottish Premier League newcomers Kilwinning Ladies announced that they had signed Fleeting. Fleeting herself said the door is still very much open for a return to Arsenal in the future. Her debut resulted in a 10–0 defeat to Celtic. It was her first match after 18 months away from football.