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Cup final joy for Hayes in ‘great advert for the game’

Camden-born Chelsea manager – who is 34 weeks pregnant – watches her side overcome Arsenal with sublime goals as record crowd see London rivals clash at Wembley

10 May, 2018 — By Catherine Etoe

Arsenal striker Vivianne Miedema grabs the ball out of the net with team-mate Beth Mead after pulling a goal back against Chelsea at Wembley. PHOTOS: CATHERINE ETOE

WITH a record crowd, three sublime goals and a performance that had her father shedding tears of joy, it was little wonder that Camden-born Chelsea boss Emma Hayes was purring with satisfaction after lifting the FA Women’s Cup on Saturday.

Chelsea turned on the style to beat Arsenal 3-1 in front of 45,423 fans at Wembley, with all four goals coming in a blistering second half that former Parliament Hill School pupil Hayes described as a “great advert for the game”.

Kim Little and Katie McCabe battle for the ball with Chelsea goalscorer Fran Kirby during Saturday evening’s cup final

“My dad was in tears at the end, tears of joy more than anything else,” the 41-year-old told the New Journal. “He is my biggest critic, but he just said ‘your team played so well’. He was so complimentary about the way we played.”

Ramona “Swiss Magician” Bachmann scored two quality goals to put Chelsea in control and though Arsenal’s Dutch striker Vivianne Miedema pulled one back, England forward Fran Kirby killed the comeback with a third three minutes later.

Arsenal fans were part of the 45,423 FA Women’s Cup record crowd at Wembley

“Let’s speak frankly,” said Arsenal boss Joe Montemurro afterwards. “They are a powerful team and they’ve got players that can unlock games, the big-game players play on the big stages and they did that.”

Hayes, who is 34 weeks pregnant, opted not to lead out her team at Wembley, leaving that task to assistant manager Paul Green. Even so, it looked as though the woman who played football as a kid on the Curnock Street estate in Camden Town, was kicking every ball as she watched from the dugout.

The Chelsea team celebrate their 3-1 win against Arsenal

Yet Hayes, who won the quadruple as Vic Akers’ assistant at Arsenal in 2007 and led Chelsea to a league and FA Cup double in 2015 and the FA WSL 1 Spring Series title in 2017, described it as her most enjoyable final yet.

“The last thing I needed was something nervy, and that was the most relaxed I’ve felt in a final in my entire career,” said Hayes, who holds a UEFA Pro Licence and has coached professional sides in the USA.

Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro. PHOTO: ARSENAL FC

Although now in the last stages of her pregnancy, Hayes hopes to see out the final few games of the FA Women’s Super League 1 season, which Chelsea are still in with a chance of winning.

As for Arsenal, who won the Continental Tyres Cup in March, Montemurro insists that the team is young and will continue to improve.

TJ O’Leary  with Ramona Bachmann

“Planning for next season started a long, long time ago, we are on track in building what we think is the right way, the Arsenal way,” he said.

“We’ve got a lot of young players – Viv Miedema is only 21, so for us the future is looking bright.”

‘We deserved it’: Coach TJ targets a return to Wembley

TJ O’Leary with Emma Hayes at Wembley

“WE want to be here every season.” That was the verdict of TJ O’Leary, Chelsea’s other leading Camden-born coach following the Blues’ victory at Wembley.

First-team coach TJ, who hails from Maitland Park, works with Emma Hayes’ world-class roster of players day-in, day-out, and, after the 3-1 win over Arsenal, he was full of praise for his charges. “I don’t think any neutral can say that we didn’t deserve to win that game,” he told the New Journal. “To perform on a massive stage like we did shows how much character we’ve got, the match-winners that we’ve got in the team.

“It was almost a perfect performance on the perfect occasion. Personally, it’s the third time I’ve been here as a coach, and the second time that we’ve won as a team. Coming back year after year is the aim.”

The former Reddot and Kentish Town FC midfielder has enjoyed many great occasions with Chelsea since Hayes added him to her coaching team five years ago, not least the historic League and FA Cup double of 2015.

But TJ, who kicked off his coaching career as a Camden Council sports development coach, aged 16, has also scored successes in his own right – winning two league titles as head coach of Chelsea’s Development Squad.

Now, the 30-year-old is coaching with the first team full-time and Hayes describes him as having done a “tremendous job” this term, while TJ says he is “where I want to be”.

“Massive thanks to Emma for showing faith in me,” he added. “This is where I want to be, where I want to progress – hopefully I’m good enough to stay here for a long time.”

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