10 Questions with... Ji So-Yun

An International Women’s Day special exclusive interview with the Chelsea Women midfield star...

Today marks International Women’s Day 2021. It is a day to focus greater attention on women role models and an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women, not only in society, but in football too.

Since her arrival at the club in 2014, Chelsea FC Women supporters have watched in awe of Ji So-Yun. The midfielder has been a pivotal member of Emma Hayes’ side throughout her seven years with the Blues and has played a huge role in the growth and trophy success of Chelsea Women.

With her technical ability, vision, breath-taking brilliance on the ball and a knack of scoring goals on the biggest occasions, Ji is undoubtedly one of the best players in the women’s game.

So there seemed no better woman to speak to on International Women’s Day, for a special edition of our feature series, 10 Questions With….

You’ve been at the club for seven years now, but where and when did football start for you?

I started playing football with my friends at school, the coaches saw me play and that’s when I joined a team. I was eight years old, it was a boy’s team and I was the only girl playing for them.

When you were growing up in South Korea, what football teams did you follow?

When I was younger, I would follow the K League in Korea. I lived in Seoul, so I always followed FC Seoul when I was growing up.

Did you have any football heroes when you were growing up or throughout your career?

When I was growing up I used to always watch Park Ji-sung. I was about 16 or 17, and Park was playing at Manchester United so I watched him a lot. He is retired now but I really enjoyed watching him play. He was a great player.

What made you come to England and what do you remember from your first game for Chelsea?

I had big dreams. When I was younger I had a dream to play for a big club in England. It was always a dream of mine to play for a club like Chelsea, so I was very happy when it happened.

I remember my first game for Chelsea was against Bristol. We won that game 2-0 and I scored in the first minute so I was happy to score on my debut. I remember scoring and then going to celebrate with Emma [Hayes]..

Who would you say they have been most influential on your career?

I would definitely have to say my family. They have been a huge influence throughout my career.

I really miss my family and Korean people. I also miss Korean spicy food too! In England, the food isn’t that spicy, so I definitely miss the spicy food from back home!

A lot has changed in the women’s game since your first appearance for the club. Have you been impressed with the growth of the women’s football in England?

When I came to England, women’s football was nothing like it is now. We didn’t have many players and the training facilities wasn’t as good. I’m really impressed how the game has come on. I think the Women’s Super League has improved a lot, it has become a lot more competitive and I’m happy to have played a part in that.

How did you become a midfielder? Did you ever play in any other positions?

I have always been a midfielder. I’ve never really played in any other positions, although on Wednesday against Atletico I played in a slightly different role. I played a bit as a winger because we had one less player.

If you weren’t a footballer, what would you have wanted to be?

I would have wanted to be a pianist or maybe a violinist. I wasn’t really interest in studying at school, so I was always sleeping, but let’s keep that a secret!

Talk us through your matchday routine…

On a matchday, I always have Korean food. Food like white rice, some meat, I love to eat pork. I like to listen to music in the build-up to a game. I always listen to Korean music.

What do you love most about living in London and what do you do to switch off from football?

The best thing about living here is spending time with friends. I have met some good friends during my time here and of course I love my Chelsea family too.

I like to chill when we have days off. I enjoy watching a lot of Korean drama and Korean movies and that helps me to switch off.