Interview

Magdalena Eriksson praises team-mates after winning the WSL

Fresh from being crowned a Barclays FA Women’s Super League champion, captain Magdalena Eriksson speaks about Chelsea FC Women’s 2019/20 Double-winning campaign.

It was announced by The FA on Friday that the undefeated Blues had been named the Women’s Super League champions following the termination of the 2019/20 season last month due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Chelsea this is the third Women’s Super League trophy in five years and Eriksson’s second league title since her arrival from Sweden in 2017, and the defender reveals how proud she is of the achievement.

‘We a had a Zoom call on Friday morning and Emma [Hayes] announced the news,’ she said. ‘We could all just appreciate what we’ve done and it was nice to see everyone’s faces, but I’m hoping once circumstances are better we can celebrate it in a proper way as well.

‘It feels amazing, of course, especially considering all the circumstances and I think we thoroughly deserved the win in the end, based on the games we played.

‘In my first year here we were also undefeated in the league and we go like that one more time. We see it as a massive statement from our club that we are here to win and compete for trophies.’

Although the league had ended prematurely meaning the sporting outcome was decided under a points-per-game system, the 26-year-old has highlighted the significance in winning both the Continental Tyres League Cup and the Women’s Super League title after narrowly missing out on silverware last term.

‘We didn’t get any last season and now we have two from this season, so we’re really happy and proud to be crowned champions.

‘Even though, of course, we would have wished to have done it in the proper way, this still means a lot. It just gives us the fuel for next season as well.

‘This club is about winning trophies and it’s really something to build on. I feel so excited for next season and to hopefully get back to where we left it,’ Eriksson continued.

Looking back on some of her key moments from the season, with the first being selected as the captain, the Swede believes she has developed as a player since taking the armband in our opening game at Stamford Bridge.

‘It feels like ages ago,’ she said. ‘I feel like I’ve matured five years in that time. When I was asked the question, I was shocked and proud, happy, excited and nervous, and all those emotions at the same time.

‘I knew taking over from Karen Carney, and before her Katie Chapman, two big legends in the women’s game and in Chelsea’s history, was big boots to fill.

‘I knew I wanted to do it my way and over the course of the season I feel I really found a way of how I want to be captaining the team. I think we found a really good rhythm of how we were working and the team was in a really good place.

‘I also always try to lead by example. I try to be the one that’s working hardest, running the most and fighting the hardest for the team.’

One moment from early in the season that is easily overlooked comes from the game away to Brighton and Hove Albion. It was our second fixture and Chelsea dominated but could not find a break through however, with less than five minutes left on the clock, Adelina Engman equalised. Eriksson believes the togetherness and determination from the squad has resulted in this year’s impressive achievements.

‘That’s like a trend of the whole season. We had a few games where we went 1-0 down and we had to fight to come back into games, but we’ve also had a lot of different goalscorers and match-winners.

‘I also think about the Arsenal win at home, when Maria [Thorisdottir] came off the bench late to score the winner. The resilience and how the whole team has contributed to us winning has been cool to see.

‘Of course, Beth England has been amazing for us, but we have so many good players so we don’t just rely on one player to give us the win, we have loads of different players who can turn up out of nowhere.

‘Maren Mjelde comes to mind here, she always seems to turn up when we really need her to. Everyone has stepped up and taken responsibility. Everyone is really, really important for the team.

‘I feel like now I’ve got the proof so I can keep saying it. When you’re in a tight title race, with several teams competing for it, you know you’ve got to treat each game like a cup final.

‘We’ve learned that this year and hopefully it will just become a habit,’ she continued.

Chelsea did not lose against our biggest rivals Manchester City and Arsenal this term and the victory over City in December was the Blues’ first league win against them since 2014. The Chelsea skipper praised our performances against the two teams and said: ‘They’ve [Man City] been really hard to beat, they’re a strong and solid team.

‘But the way we played in this game, and also at home to Arsenal, gave me a massive confidence boost. I’ve never felt we’ve dominated games against them in the way we did.

‘There have always been tight games, which I felt could have gone either way, but in both of those wins I felt it was only going to be us winning, because we were so dominant.

‘It’s nice to be able to say with confidence that I felt we really deserved to win those two games. That gave us massive confidence going into the winter break: unbeaten and having defeated the two biggest rivals.

Lastly, Eriksson gives her thanks to the Chelsea supporters, who she would have loved to share the celebrations with at Kingsmeadow.

‘I’ve never celebrated anything like this on my own, it’s absolutely not as fun as when we celebrated after the Continental Cup final, for example.

‘Obviously we’re all gutted we can’t celebrate together with our fans. They’ve been such an amazing support for us throughout this whole season and they’ve come to all the away games, as well as at home, and they’ve been loud and proud.

‘We’ve heard them this whole time. Hopefully we get the chance to celebrate with them later, but for now I just want them to know they’re a massive part of this win as well.’

Read: Emma Hayes dedicates title to frontline workers 
 

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