New Chelsea Ladies contract for Cooper

Chelsea Ladies defender Deanna Cooper is looking forward to getting back on the pitch in the short term, and winning silverware in the long term, after signing a two-year contract extension with the club.

Cooper is currently sidelined as she recovers from surgery to her anterior cruciate ligament last summer, but her form during the Spring Series was enough to earn her a new deal with the club just over 12 months on from her arrival.

The 24-year-old centre-half was the breakthrough star of the shortened season after joining us from London Bees. We caught up with her to discuss a memorable 12 months, the support of her team-mates during a tough period and what she hopes to achieve over the next two years.


How pleased are you to extend your stay with the club?

It's amazing. I wasn't expecting it, so I'm over the moon. It's a great club and I'm really happy to be a part of it for the new two years.


You recently celebrated your one-year anniversary as a Blue. What have you made of these past 12 months?

It has been amazing, despite the injury. It's been a big achievement for me and the first six months was something I wasn't really expecting. I got a lot more opportunities than I thought I would, and obviously it went quite well for me and really well for the team. I came here from London Bees and it was a bit of a shock at first, but to train and play alongside some of the best players in the world has been incredible.


Emma Hayes described your form as one of the biggest pluses of the Spring Series campaign, which ended with us lifting the trophy at the end of the shortened season. How do you feel you progressed?

I really felt I developed as a player due to the management and the players here; the advice they gave me, their work ethic, the standards they set for themselves in training and on matchdays. There’s a winning mentality here and that’s one of the most important things you can have. Everyone wants to win, but it takes a little bit extra to have that mentality and be prepared to do it and put the work in on the training field.

Deanna Cooper closely marks Jodie Taylor in a WSL1 game against Arsenal

After such a sterling campaign, you suffered a knee injury in the first behind-closed-doors match of the pre-season.

It's been a tough six months, both mentally and physically, and you have to learn to do things again like walking. Obviously that sounds quite simple – you've been doing it your whole life – but once your leg doesn't do what your brain wants it do, it becomes quite difficult.

The mental side is definitely really tough. As well as seeing the girls do really well, which I'm really happy about, you also want to be a part of that. You see them out training every day while you're in the physio room being treated, which is quite difficult. It's taken a lot of support from the players and the staff, particularly those in the medical department. They've been incredible with me. They told me to just take it one day at a time and then go from there.


How’s the rehabilitation going?

I'm not back with the team yet, but I'm six months post-op now so it's just a case of working on the final bits with the physio before I can reintegrate back into the training group. I'm so excited to get back out there with the team.

Deanna Cooper (left) celebrates winning the WSL Spring Series with Maren Mjelde

Jade Bailey is on her way back after suffering a similar injury. How much has she helped you?

I can't thank Jade enough for everything, all the advice she's given me over the past six month. And she's one tough cookie. She's helped me through some really horrible periods, things that players who haven't been through this injury might not necessarily understand. Being able to ask Jade random questions that she can answer but others can't has been brilliant and I'm so pleased to see her doing well at the moment.


Has it brought you closer together?

The whole team is really close anyway, but Jade has been especially helpful to me. It keeps me going, having seen her do everything and progress through it, and now she's close to getting back. It gives me hope.


What has the manager said to you?

We've had a few chats. She told me to keep my head down, keep working hard and make sure I don't change my attitude. And she's been very supportive about my injury and obviously the new contract has come off the back of that.


What are your aims for the period covered by this new contract?

My first aim is obviously to get back into the squad. I need to get fit and make sure I give the squad everything I can over the next two years. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the future holds.


And, in the short term, you must be confident about what the team can achieve over this vitally important phase of the season?

We've got some really big games coming up, but I know the character of the girls will get them through that. Their attitude is spot on and they work so hard every day in order to get the result at the weekend, so I'm confident they're going to do really well.