The newest addition to the Chelsea FC Women squad Niamh Charles, whose move from Liverpool was announced during the coronavirus lockdown, spoke to us on her move to London…
The 21-year-old has joined us ahead of the 2020/21 Barclays FA Women’s Super League season on a three-year contract and linked up with the Blues last week to begin our pre-season preparations.
Charles is excited about her new challenge at Chelsea and believes the move will improve her game, as she explains in the interview below…
Firstly a warm welcome to the club, what are your first impressions of Chelsea Women?
Well thank you, I love it. Obviously it’s a bit different with COVID but from what I’ve seen so far and what we’ve been allowed to do, it’s been brilliant, the whole thing is slick and great.
How have you found your first week of pre-season?
Different to what I’ve ever done before because of COVID, but I think every player has found that. I’ve really enjoyed it, coming in and meeting the girls bit by bit. It’s not like meeting them all at once but each day I’m meeting a few more people and it’s been really welcoming and lovely.
Did you know any of the Chelsea team before signing?
I knew Soph [Ingle] and Beth [England] obviously because they played at Liverpool for a few years but other than that I’ve not met anyone else really.
You spent your whole career up until now at Liverpool. Was it a tough decision to leave them?
It was a tough decision, I’ve played for Liverpool for years. I’ve grown up there and I’m a Liverpool fan born and bred so it was difficult to leave the club. But the timing was right and I felt like this was the next step for me and I was ready to challenge myself.
What has been your experience of playing against Chelsea in the last few years?
When you come to Chelsea you know that they are an unbelievable team and you have got to give them the utmost respect. And when they come you have to make sure that you have prepared everything and you’re fully on with the game plan. Over the past couple of years it’s been a real tough test, at times they have just shown their absolute quality but again it’s brilliant to play against quality like that because it does test you.
What is your best position?
I’d say probably a winger, either wing but my favoured is the left just because of how it’s happened. Growing up through the academy I was hammered with my left so it’s just naturally happened, but a winger in general.
What do you think you will bring to the side?
Hard work and hopefully just helping the team continue the winning culture that they’ve created here. Working hard on the pitch and just learning from everyone here who is top class, hopefully I can help contribute to that.
What do you like about Emma Hayes as a coach?
She was a massive reason for me to come because she has shown throughout the years that she consistently wins and produces amazing teams. Personally it was a massive opportunity for me to work with her and I’ve seen how she’s developed players and got the best out of teams as a whole. It’s exciting for me, she’s just a winner and to be part of that culture is something I’m massively excited for.
Read: Hayes and England scoop WSL awards
You’re still only 21, are you hoping the move will help your personal development as well?
Coming down here, it’s just one step at a time, meeting the girls and not looking too far ahead. I’m going to just enjoy it as much as I can and take in everything I can to learn and be better from everyone that’s around me.
What do you hope to achieve during your time at Chelsea?
As a team you look straight away at winning year in, year out so that is something I want to continue and contribute to. That’s the culture here and personally, hopefully just develop my game and learn as much as I can here to see where that takes me.
Chelsea are qualified to play in the Champions League next season, how exciting is that prospect for you?
That’s so exciting, that’s something that I’ve not had before. To be able to come up against some of Europe’s top teams to play against them and test ourselves is something I’m really looking forward to. It will be a new experience but something I’m looking forward to.
Tell us your greatest football achievement so far?
I’ve been to an Under-20 World Cup and there we won a Bronze medal so that was a massive team achievement. But I think personally just looking at my Liverpool journey, joining as a kid relatively late and making that progression all the way to the first team then playing at Anfield. Personally that achievement for me was massive.