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Lindahl brings award back to Cobham

Hedvig Lindahl has spoken of her delight at being recognised as the best female Swedish goalkeeper for the seventh time, ahead of Chelsea Ladies’ return to domestic action at home to Yeovil on Saturday.

The recent international break proved to be a big success for Chelsea’s No.1 both on and off the field, as she kept a clean sheet in a prestigious friendly against France seven days after collecting an honour which has taken up almost permanent residence on her mantelpiece in recent years.

Sweden hosted its annual awards ceremony last week to recognise the best players in the Damallsvenskan, which is their equivalent of the FA Women’s Super League 1, and the top Swedish females currently playing abroad.

Although Lindahl missed out on winning the Diamond Ball, awarded to the best Swedish women’s player, after winning it in the previous two years, she claimed the Goalkeeper of the Year award for a seventh time.

‘I am very thankful to win this award,’ said the 34-year-old upon returning to Cobham after the international break.

‘Each year is a new challenge and to receive this award means I’ve continued to develop my game to be able to compete.’

Blues boss Emma Hayes paid tribute to the shot-stopper, who has kept clean sheets in three of our four Women’s Champions League wins this term and has been first choice between the sticks throughout her stay at the club, which is approaching three years.

‘I’m absolutely delighted for Viggy,’ said Hayes. ‘I said after the home leg of the Bayern Munich tie that we’ve got the best goalkeeper in the world in our squad because she is a player who keeps us in games when we need her.

‘The fans know all about her quality on the pitch, but I’d also like to mention how much work she puts in on the training ground. She is so methodical in her preparation and nothing is ever left to chance with Viggy, which is what every coach wants to see from a goalkeeper.

‘It’s also important to note the good work of our goalkeeper coach, Stuart Searle, and the other keepers in the squad, Becky Spencer and Carly Telford.

‘Few teams in Europe can match that depth of quality between the sticks and that ensures whoever is in possession of the gloves knows they have to be at their very best to keep hold of them.’

The award is not the only recognition that has come Lindahl’s way in her homeland this term, as in October she also became the most capped goalkeeper, male or female, in the history of the Swedish national team.

She surpassed Thomas Ravelli’s mark of 143 and she revealed the legendary shot-stopper, who helped Sweden to third place at the 1994 World Cup, had been in touch to congratulate her.

‘Ravelli is a nice guy and he actually coached me when I was in Gothenburg,’ she said. ‘He knew the coach we had there so he came along as a goalkeeper coach a few times.

‘We’ve met on other occasions, too, and he’s always been very supportive. He wrote something nice on my Instagram too – something about having no hard feelings and telling me I have a few more years left to play.

‘I actually don’t think this record is a fair comparison, as if you look at the data the men’s team didn’t play as much as we do, but at the same time I am the record holder and I’m happy because it means I did something that no one else has done and hopefully it stands for a while yet.’