Gilly Flaherty - Vice-Captain
Date of birth: 24 August 1991
Place of birth: Bermondsey
International: England senior
Trophies won at Chelsea: FA WSL 2015, FA Women’s Cup 2015, FA WSL Spring Series 2017
There are few defenders in the FA Women’s League who offer the dependability and commitment displayed by Gilly Flaherty, who has been a rock at the heart of the Chelsea Ladies defence since joining in 2014 from Arsenal.
As well as her ability on the football field, Flaherty brought a key ingredient into the dressing room - a winning mentality which was ingrained in her during a trophy-laden spell with the Gunners.
Although her first season as a Blue ultimately ended in frustration as we reached domestic cup semi-finals and lost out on the WSL title on the final day, Flaherty vowed to use the experience as a motivating tool heading into the 2015 campaign. She had scored two goals in 20 appearances during that maiden season, but the figure in the goals-against column was too high for her liking.
As vice-captain in 2015, leading out the side in seven of her 24 appearances, Flaherty formed the league’s tightest central defensive partnership with long-time friend Niamh Fahey, who joined the club from Arsenal during the preceding close season. As the clean sheets went up, so too did the goals for. Flaherty had netted twice in her first season, and that figure improved to six including a world-class volley against Notts County in a vital WSL win.
Although her Women’s Champions League know-how wasn’t enough to help the Blues past Wolfsburg in the last 16 of the competition at the end of 2015, a fine campaign with the team was rewarded on a personal level for Flaherty when she was named Players' Player of the Year at the club’s end of season awards dinner.
She signed a new two-year contract with Chelsea in April 2016 shortly before the Women’s FA Cup final and celebrated the occasion by scoring in our win at Liverpool, although it proved to be her only goal of the season. Only Millie Bright started more matches than Flaherty across a campaign in which she also captained the side on four occasions.
Although a combination of injuries and suspension kept her out of the early Women’s FA Cup and Spring Series matches at the start of the campaign, Flaherty was back to her best on the right-hand side of the back three as a solid defence was the bedrock of another trophy success. She also chipped in with the opening goal in our 7-0 win over Liverpool in the final Blues match played at Wheatsheaf Park.
Having represented England at Under-15 level right the way up to Under-23s, Flaherty was finally handed her first senior call-up for the Lionesses' post-season tour of China in 2015 - a chance she grabbed with both hands, shining in games against the hosts and Australia. She certainly made up for lost time, maintaining her place in Mark Sampson’s plans and staking a claim for a spot in the squad at Euro 2017, although she missed out on selection for the tournament in the Netherlands.
Prior to joining Chelsea, Flaherty played for Millwall and then Arsenal, where she first worked with Emma Hayes, following a successful trial with the club in 2003. She went on to win the quadruple in the 2006/07 season, comprising the UEFA Women's Cup, FA Women's National Premier League, FA Women's Cup and the FA Women's Premier League Cup.