Emma Hayes: 'Chelsea's time to win Women's Champions League'

Chelsea staff with the WSL trophy
Chelsea defended their Women’s Super League title earlier this month
Date: Sunday, 16 May Kick-off: 20:00 BST Venue: Gamla Ullevi, Gothenburg, SwedenBBC coverage: Live text coverage on the BBC Sport website, commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes says “it’s our time” to win the Women’s Champions League going into Sunday’s final against Barcelona.

Hayes hopes to lead Chelsea to their first European title after they wrapped up a record fourth Women’s Super League crown last weekend.

The only English team to be crowned European champions – known then as the Uefa Cup – was Arsenal in 2007.

“I really respect Barcelona but I cannot wait to play them,” said Hayes.

“It’s our time and there’s so many players in that dressing room that can win the football match for us – we’ve seen it in recent weeks – the amount of players that have popped up all over the pitch to determine the outcome.

“Have we got better every week, even when we’re not at our best? Yeah. When we’re not at our best we’ve still got it.

“The amount of times people say, ‘your team played so well’ and I was thinking, ‘no we didn’t’ but we won. And that’s a special thing to have.”

Chelsea travel to Gothenburg, Sweden for Sunday’s final (20:00 BST kick-off) and you can listen to commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live.

‘I see a resemblance in the team I’ve got now’

Ji So-yun and Alex Scott
Chelsea’s Ji So-yun celebrates with this season’s WSL title while Arsenal’s Alex Scott parades the 2007 Uefa Cup trophy

Hayes was Vic Akers’ assistant when Arsenal won the European title in 2007 – part of a historic quadruple that season.

The Gunners had a squad bursting with talent in the likes of Kelly Smith, Jayne Ludlow and Rachel Yankey.

But when asked about the differences between that Arsenal side and Hayes’ current Chelsea squad, she joked “different coloured kits”, before adding “depth”.

“I think we’ve got more strength in depth than that team did,” said Hayes. “I think we’ve got more goals in Europe than that team did.

“I always remember Vic saying to me ‘we’ve avoided the German teams’. So, ironically, when we got the German teams this time around, I said, ‘I’m so glad we got the German teams’.

“I remember Borehamwood, I remember the home crowd, I remember that special moment looking at all of our friends and family in the crowd because I don’t think we could believe we were European champions.

“Did we think we were going to win it? I don’t think we thought too much about it. I think the spirit of the squad was so tight that it didn’t stress us too much. I see a resemblance in the team I’ve got now, that’s for sure.”

‘You’ve got to think big in life’

Emma Hayes and Sam Kerr
Emma Hayes signed Australia international Sam Kerr in November 2019

This is a moment Hayes has been building up to since taking over at Chelsea nine years ago.

Along the way, she recalls watching the 2012 men’s final with club chairman Bruce Buck, when the Blues stunned Bayern Munich to win it for the first time.

And a time she visited a tarot card reader and was told “I would do amazing things at Chelsea and inspire generations of little girls”.

And more recently, Hayes reflected on a conversation with women’s chairman Adrian Jacob.

“He said to me yesterday when Pernille Harder and Sam Kerr were sat eating their dinner together, ‘would you have imagined two years ago, that they would be sitting here lifting the [WSL] trophy today?’

“And I went ‘yes’. Because that’s who I am. You’ve got to think big in life and it was my calling.”

Hayes has revealed some of her motivation techniques this season, including getting players to think like geeseexternal-link and showing them an interview by mixed martial artist Rose Namajunas.external-link

She would not divulge what she has planned before the final, but hopes to provide her players with “courage”.

“I really believe there’s another level in us, I really do,” she said. “I’m so looking forward to watching us find that level and (…) compete for the honour of being champions of Europe.”


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