Bethany England is the latest Chelsea Women's player to sign a new contract, prolonging her stay at the club for a further two years.
England is our top scorer in all competitions this season with 17 goals, including her first Chelsea hat-trick in last Wednesday's big win over Bristol City.
A versatile player who has featured at wing-back in the past for Emma Hayes's side, whom she joined in 2016, England has excelled up front this season, finding the net with regularity on the back of an impressive campaign on loan at Liverpool. Her pace, power and finishing ability have been hallmarks of her outstanding forward play of late.
The 24-year-old will remain a Blue until 2021 and she is understandably delighted with the news, as she told the official Chelsea website in an interview discussing the new deal, her development and her England prospects...
Tell us about when you first found out about a new contract being a possibility?
I think it was mid-December when I found out that they were interested in keeping me here at Chelsea. The negotiations started and it went from there and I’m just delighted to finally sign the two-year-deal.
You went on loan to Liverpool last season and seem to have hit the ground running since you came back to Chelsea – what has the last 18 months been like for you?
For me, it’s been amazing. Looking previously at loanees that went out, they didn’t really come back and get the opportunity whereas for me I did. This season has just been about me pushing on.
I felt like I had a good season for Liverpool. I just wanted to showcase what I did there and bring it here and I think I’ve managed to go up another few levels. I’ve got into the team quite regularly now which is important and I’ve also been scoring goals so it’s been really good.
How do you feel you have developed throughout that time?
I can definitely see a change in me as a player on the pitch, how I read things and obviously having the players around me is a big help. The players here have such great quality, they are going to be able to feed you the ball and in great positions more often than not, so it’s about making sure that I’m on the ball in order to finish.
Going out on loan to Liverpool, how much did that motivate you?
I was really upset when they told me I was going out on loan because a part of me felt like I wasn’t good enough to cut it here. It was a big determination from me to go away and prove that I am good enough, so to be brought back and kick on with the season I am having at the moment is probably the best thing that has ever happened to me.
The fact you were brought back to the club and now offered this contract shows the belief Emma Hayes has in you. What’s it like working with her and how has she helped you?
For me trust is a big thing and this season I’ve really seen the trust that Emma has put in me as a player. She’s played me in the bigger games and the fact that she has benched other players and put me in to lead the line. I know I’ve always worked hard and I’ll always give everything I’ve got for the team. The fact that they have had the trust in me is probably the main reason my confidence has come out which has helped me fly as much as I have done this season.
Did you expect this season to go as well as it has done for you on a personal level?
If I’m being honest I would have to say I didn’t expect things to go as well as they have done for me. I know I had a decent season at Liverpool but it was nothing on Fran Kirby. She had a great season, she was nominated for the Ballon d’Or and she is an unbelievable player. She is one of my best friends and she is such a wonderful footballer, but I think for me to get the opportunity when she got injured I knew I had to take my chance and thankfully I took it. I have been surprised that I’ve had as many starts as I have, but it’s helped me build some momentum and it’s helped me grow in confidence and that is one of the key factors why I’ve been performing so well.
What’s it like having that competition for places with the likes of Fran and Ramona?
They are both unbelievable players and I think anyone who wants to improve needs that competition and that drive. With me and Fran, we know we are the best of friends but we also know that we are competing for that position and it is tough. I think having that healthy competition is important for us as players to improve on areas that we need to work on.
You’ve put pen to paper on a two-year deal, what do you hope to achieve?
I’d love to win some silverware! I’d love to win the FA Cup, the league and the Champions League. I also want to keep improving on a personal level, keep scoring and hopefully I can really cement my place in the team and hopefully get that England call-up!
Talking of that England call-up, a lot of people have been suggesting that you deserve to get your chance with England – is that something that you are aware of or are you just staying focused on your club football?
I think with any player in form they will be thinking I’ve given everything, why aren’t I getting that call? When’s my chance going to come? But at the minute for me it’s an uncontrollable thing that I can’t change. All I can do is go out there week in week out and if I can continue to score goals and play well then the pressure will be more on the people at England than it is for me. I know I’m doing the best that I can and I have thought about it a lot, but I’m still young and I know there’s plenty of time for me to break into the England squad. For now it’s just about biding my time and continuing to perform week in week out for the club.
- Chelsea Women's next home games are against Paris St-Germain on Thursday 21 March and against West Ham on Sunday 31 March. Click for tickets