Chelsea manager Emma Hayes has said she expects an emotional end to her illustrious stint at the Women’s Super League side when she leaves at the end of this season to take charge of the United States women’s national team.
Hayes took over at Chelsea in 2012 and helped them become the dominant force in English women’s football, winning six league titles and five FA Cups. It was announced in November that she would leave Chelsea and manage the United States.
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The 47-year-old was typically honest when asked if she would find it difficult when her time at Stamford Bridge comes to an end.
“I don’t think they’ll be mixed [emotions], I’ll be absolutely distraught. I’m a bit of a sobber. I think I’ll cry my eyes out for the last few weeks,” Hayes told the Football Writers’ Association (FWA) in an interview.
“I’ve done my bit and I certainly hope they welcome me back as a fan because that’s how I see myself,” she added.
Hayes has led Chelsea to 13 major trophies in her 11 seasons at the club and they are top of the WSL , three points clear of Manchester City at the halfway stage of this campaign.
The English coach added the FWA Tribute Award to her illustrious resume on Sunday, as the first female in 42 years to win the prize. The one title missing is the Champions League, which she is desperate to claim this year, with Chelsea having lost to Barcelona in the final in 2021.
Hayes has a tough job ahead in restoring the USWNT to their former glory after the four-time world champions were eliminated from last year’s World Cup in the round of 16.
“I’ll develop another side to myself and I’ll have to work with a team off the pitch as well in a much different way to prepare for major tournaments,” she said.
“But I’m so excited to go to the Olympics and the World Cup, it’s what dreams are made of, to think that I’m in a position where I can lead a team out at the Paris Olympics and a World Cup in three years time — happy days.”
While Hayes said it is “worrying” to be first woman to win the FWA award, she is proud to be part of a narrative shift in the women’s game.
Playing Lego football — which now includes female players — with her son Harry recently was a moment of revelation about the growth in women’s football.
“He thought I was the female manager on the side, he automatically just assumes women manage teams, whether it’s men’s or women’s,” Hayes said.
“When I was growing up and aspiring to play an FA Cup final at Wembley for Tottenham and being Glenn Hoddle, scores of young girls and boys are thinking now about how amazing [Chelsea’s] Millie Bright is or Sam Kerr is,” she added.
“I think those are the moments I pinch myself about more than I do the achievements.”