Analysis

Hayes hails ‘monster’ mentality of her players after reaching Champions League final

Emma Hayes lauded her team after Chelsea Women reached the Champions League final for the first time in our history.

Speaking after the Blues' 2-1 first leg defeat against Bayern Munich, Hayes pledged that her team would give the performance of their lives and Chelsea certainly did that in our semi-final return leg at Kingsmeadow.

The Blues produced a gutsy and clinical performance on Sunday afternoon as a brace from Fran Kirby and goals from Ji So-Yun and Pernille Harder secured a 5-3 aggregate victory.

Hayes become the first English female coach to reach the final and, speaking in her post-match press conference, the Blues boss said she had fulfilled a lifelong dream.

She said: ‘My whole mind this week was on this game. I wanted to go to this final and I want to win this competition. This has been a dream of mine for a long time and for everyone inside the dressing room.

‘Denise Reddy, who I’ve worked with before, Stuart Searle, Paul Green - this is a dream of a lot of people that have put into action the team we have.

‘Anybody that knows anything about winning, knows that it’s more than just talent, it’s everything else that goes around it. I’m happy for all the people that have helped us get to this point.’

Chelsea became only the third team to reach the final having lost the opening leg and Hayes revealed how she shared an inspirational video with her players during a pre-match meeting ahead of Sunday’s semi-final.

She added: ‘I showed the players a video before the game and it was so impressive. Her name is Rose Namajunas. There is a video of her saying "I am the best" before she fights and at the end, the interviewer said to her, "I heard you saying before the fight, you are the best" and she’d won the fight.

‘She said, "I am the best" and I described us as mentality monsters. Block all the noise out, don’t hear anything, we are the best, we are the best, we are the best.

‘The team and its spirit and everything around it have demonstrated why we are going to the first final as an English team in a long time.’

Chelsea had failed to reach the final on two previous occasions but after Sunday’s victory, the Blues become the first English side since Arsenal in 2007 to reach a European final and Hayes highlighted a switch in belief which enabled her side to go one step further this time around.

‘I know what we are like at Kingsmeadow, I know what training was like this week and we had a really good training week,’ said Hayes. ‘There was a good buzz about the pitch, everybody felt even though we lost last week, that we can do this. That is what the difference is.

‘When we played Lyon a couple of years ago, before we got into the first leg, I don’t think the players really believed we could do it until half-time and that’s what we learnt from the past. Now it’s different, even at 2-1 down. Some came up to me at the end and said I told you we would do it!

‘We are there, we are in the final and we are here to win it. Let’s be clear about that but I will be clear in saying I’m going to enjoy this moment. I’ve worked too hard not to do that and so has everybody else.’

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