Emma Hayes OBE celebrates 10 successful years as a blue

As Sunday marked Emma Hayes’ 10 years at Chelsea FC Women, she has become a legend within the club and amongst the fans. She also became a voice for women throughout the industry as she grew to be an advocate for her players, women’s football and for women in general. Although, due to her opinions surrounding this she has been labelled outspoken, but this doesn’t stop her.

“I’m someone who’s felt that women should be paid what they’re worth – I wish everybody would have that mentality instead of a fear mentality”

– Emma Hayes 

Emma Carol Hayes was born in Camden, London on the 18th of October 1976. As she grew up, she obtained a master’s degree in Intelligence and International affairs  Liverpool Hope University and graduated in 1999. Her first taste of management came in 2001 as she joined the Long Island Lady Riders and then became head football coach at Iona College in New Rochelle between the years of 2003 and 2006.

After she left Iona College, she moved to the WSL as she became the first team assistant coach and academy director for Arsenal Ladies between the years of 2006 and 2008. As she left Arsenal, she moved to America and joined the Chicago Red Stars as the manager in 2008. However, she was sacked 2 years later and took up a technical director role at Western New York Flash and helped them with advice on transfers and helped create a winning team as they went on to win the 2011 Women’s Professional Soccer championship. She returned to London after working as a consultant for Washington Freedom as she came back and worked for her family business in currency exchange.

However, in 2012, the opportunity came up to replace Liverpool-bound Matt Beard and landed her place with Chelsea FC Women. In her first full season in charge, the club finished second from bottom as they gained 10 points from 14 matches. However, after strong signing through Ji So-Yun, Katie Chapman and Gilly Flaherty the following year looked hopeful as Chelsea missed out on a close win of the WSL as they faced last-day defeat by Manchester City Women.

After missing out on the 2014 FA WSL 1 title the season before, Hayes looked inward and made a massive squad overhaul as several new signings were made. Sweden’s Hedvig Lindahl and Lioness Millie Bright were amongst the new recruits in order to secure the title the following season. Despite the memories of final day defeat stuck on Hayes’ mind, she later led her ladies to a historic league and cup double as Ji So-Yun scored a lone strike in the first half of the FA Cup Final against Notts County and secured the club’s first piece of major silverware. They also regained their confidence after a devastating defeat in the previous season as they won the FA WSL 1 title after defeating Sunderland 4-0. However, after double success, Hayes’ squad reached the last 16 of the Women’s Champions League after defeating Glasgow City but were knocked out by VfL Wolfsburg as they were defeated 2-1 at home.

Hayes was (and still is) the life behind Chelsea as Katie Chapman states she “built the club from the ground up

” She had the kit washed, made sure we had food, made sure we had our own building, our own training ground and pitches. Now, it’s an absolute professional setup but everything’s been a fight over the years to do that”

– Katie Chapman (former Chelsea player)

During the 2016-17 season, Hayes’ team finished second in the FA WSL 1 as they placed five points adrift of Champions of the season Manchester City Women. The squad also reached the FA Cup Final for the second consecutive year but faced defeat as they lost 1-0 to Arsenal. However, Chelsea won the FA WSL Spring Series, which is an interim edition of the FA WSL Hayes led the squad to first place as they finished on the same points as City but beat them through goal difference. In that same year, she was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2016 Birthday Honours for her services to football.

After previous season success, Hayes made a few more changes to the squad as she recruited Ramona Bachmann, Maren Mjelde, Erin Cuthbert and Crystal Dunn who all helped Hayes’ team to finish top in the FA WSL 1 with a strong goal difference in the 2017-18 season. The team also featured in the FA Cup competitions and reached the semi-finals but faced defeat as they were knocked out by Birmingham City during a penalty shootout.

In 2018, Hayes fell pregnant with twins but sadly lost Albie 28 weeks in. However, Harry was born healthy on the 17th of May 2018 and Hayes dedicates her success to both Harry and Albie.

In the 2019-20 season, Hayes sought to rebuild the team following the conclusion of the 17/18 season around new signings Sam Kerr, Pernille Harder and Ann Katrin Berger. The 19/20 and 20/21 season saw Chelsea win back-to-back WSL titles following a disappointing 18/19 season as the club came out without any trophies. Chelsea were hailed as “one of the best teams ever” after their dominance throughout the 20/21 season in England and Europe. Hayes reached further personal success as she became the first woman manager to reach the Champions League final in 12 years. However, on the 16th of May, on their first-ever Champions League final, they were defeated 4-0 by Barcelona Femeni.

Hayes won the 2020-21 FA WSL Manager of the Season Award and later signed a new long-term contract with Chelsea. She was also inducted into the FA WSL Hall of Fame. She was also awarded The Best FIFA Football Coach on the 18th of January 2021 as she beat strong competition such as Sarina Wiegman based on Hayes’ 2019-20 season.

For the third season running, she won FA WSL Manager of the Season after Chelsea defeated Arsenal 3-0 in the FA Cup and the League domestic double as they beat Reading 5-0 at home. However, they finished runners-up in the League Cup behind Manchester City.

The following 21/22 season vowed success for Hayes as Chelsea played their 30th competitive season and 12th consecutive season within the FA Women’s Super League as they clutched victory for another year as they finished 1st following their 4-2 victory against Manchester United in a tense final day due to Arsenal being 1 point behind, who would’ve won on goal difference if Chelsea drew. Despite being runners-up to City in the League Cup, they faced victory as they returned the favour as they defeated City 3-2 in the FA Cup Final. Chelsea were also knocked out of the group stage of the Champions League as VfL Wolfsburg defeated them 4-0.

The future looks bright for Hayes as the 2022-23 season slowly creeps up as they face West Ham United on the 11th of September at 12:30pm.

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