The Chelsea manager reflects on the journey she has overseen ahead of her last game at Stamford Bridge...

Let me start with a story.

It’s matchday and Paul Green and I have arrived early at Wheatsheaf Park in Staines. We’ve got a game against Liverpool that afternoon but the rain is coming down like you wouldn’t believe.

We didn’t have a team of people working on the pitch. None of that. So Paul and I had a choice to make. We do nothing and the game is almost certainly called off or we go and find the rollers and clear water off the pitch ourselves.

The decision we took won’t surprise you. There we were, just a few hours before kick-off, pushing water off the pitch. It was exhausting and I don’t remember if we got the game on! Yet that’s what it was like. We’d do anything to get a match played.

We won’t need the rollers this weekend, of course. We’ve come a long way since then. Stamford Bridge. Barcelona. A Champions League semi-final. This is what it was all for. This is the stage the players deserve. This is where Chelsea should be.

Make no mistake about it, we’re playing the best team in the world. Barcelona will come at us and try to dominate us in so many different ways. It is going to be a mental challenge as much as a physical one and when the legs are tired, when minds are tired, that is when we need you. That is when you make the difference.

Make sure you’re there. Make sure Stamford Bridge is sold out.

I remember coming to the 2013 Champions League final at the Bridge, Wolfsburg versus Lyon it was. I said that one day it would be us playing in these games and filling our stadium. That was the journey – and the club supported us to make it happen.

My first home game in charge of Chelsea was against Birmingham City at Staines. We only had only a few hundred dedicated fans at matches and the pitch was not the best, but we made it home.

I’ve got some great memories of Wheatsheaf Park, from beating Sunderland on the last day of the season to win the league and do the double to Stuart running down the touchline for a pile-on after Fran’s late winner in the 2016 FA Cup semi-final.

Kingsmeadow, of course, has now been home for many years. We needed to take that step, needed somewhere that was ours.

Paul and I were heavily involved in its design, as we have been in our building at Cobham. To have the input is rare but we’ve taken great care and pride to ensure our players have what they need.

We love Kingsmeadow and our fans there. It’s special and somewhere we have created many happy memories down the years. But again, it’s about the next step. That’s Stamford Bridge. Always has been.

There was some talk that we wouldn’t play there because we were afraid of playing on a big pitch. We’ve silenced those people this season and made it our home.

I know this Saturday is my final game at Stamford Bridge. Honestly, I’ve not thought about it too much. My focus is on winning the game and getting through to the final. That dominates my thoughts and preparation.

But when I walk out of the tunnel and see the blue and white flags, hear Stamford Bridge chanting the players’ names, and know everyone is driving us on with everything they’ve got, I feel emotional just thinking about it.

It’s all I’ve ever wanted.

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