10

Ji So-Yun

BIOGRAPHY

Ji joined the club from Japanese side INAC Kobe Leonessa, for whom she starred in a win over Chelsea in the final of the 2013 International Women's Club Championship (IWCC) in Tokyo.

A four-time winner of her country’s Footballer of the Year award, Ji became the first South Korean to play in the FA Women’s Super League and proved to be an instant hit during her debut campaign in 2014. In April 2021, Ji became the first non-British player to reach 100 league appearances. Few players in the women’s game are blessed with the deft touch, vision, weight of pass and, most crucially, eye for goal that Ji possesses.

By the end of her first season in England she had almost helped a side which finished near the bottom of the table in 2013 become champions of England, with the highlight of her campaign coming against Arsenal with a sublime last-minute winner. Although the Blues narrowly missed out on glory, Ji won the FA WSL Player of the Year prize, as well as making it a Chelsea double at the PFA awards as she collected the Players' Player of the Year honour.

A first season which yielded nine goals from 19 appearances was just a taster of what was to come in 2015. Ji played a starring role as the Blues ended their wait for a major honour after the Women’s World Cup mid-season, during which she had featured regularly for her country as they reached the knockout phase.
Of course, it was Ji who got the ball rolling in the final-day win over Sunderland which confirmed our first-ever WSL championship - a player for the big occasion and top scorer for a second consecutive season, this time with 10 goals from 26 appearances.

Once again, her end-of-season goal tally for 2016 hit double figures, an impressive figure for a player who typically played as a No.10 but also spent periods in a deeper midfield role.

Ji was among our leading scorers once again during the shortened 2017 Spring Series, firing in six goals from eight starts, including quick-fire braces in our opening Women’s FA Cup and league fixtures and another strike at Reading which came less than a minute after she had been brought on as a substitute.

The goals continued to flow at a reasonable rate in the 2017/18 campaign, with 12 coming from 28 appearances. She scored in three consecutive rounds of the Champions League, including our only goal in the semi-final tie against Wolfsburg, and it was Ji’s sensational brace on the final day against Liverpool - one volleyed in with her right foot, the other curled home with her left - which confirmed our unbeaten status in the 2017/18 WSL season.

A nomination for PFA Women’s Player of the Year, a spot in the Team of the Year and the Champions League squad of the season was evidence of another excellent campaign, as was another pair of major honours added to her collection.

Ji made 30 appearances out of 39 throughout the 2018/19 season and netted nine. Two of which came against Manchester City in the WSL to salvage a draw and that showed how important she is on a big occasion. Her calmness and technical ability also shone during the Blues’ semi-final home leg against Lyon in the Champions League. The South Korean scored a stunning free-kick from 30-yards out which looped over a bulk of the opposition and into the top corner of the net. Her effort was voted as a top 10 goal from the 2019 Women’s Champions League.

She was also named in the 2019 PFA Women’s Super League 1 Team of the Year alongside Chelsea team-mates Hannah Blundell and Erin Cuthbert and was in the running for the Women’s PFA Player of the Year award.

Sitting on close to 200 Chelsea appearances, the midfielder put pen to paper on a new three-year deal ahead of the 2019/20 campaign, extending her stay until 2022.
Throughout the 2020/21 season, Ji made 33 appearances out of 40 scoring three in total, including a spectacular individual effort versus Reading at the Madejski Stadium at the start of the year and a clever finish in our champions league semi-final versus Bayern Munich.

The South Korean was in the running for FIFA’s Best Women’s Footballer, as well as being shortlisted for the FifPro World 11 2020. Away from Chelsea, in 2020 Ji was appointed as co-president of the Koren Pro-Footballer’s Association, becoming the first female to occupy that role.