‘Dreams come true’: Hayes emotional as Chelsea reach Champions League final
A very emotional Emma Hayes said her Chelsea team simply “don’t want to lose” after they became the third club in 20 years to reach the Women’s Champions League final having lost the first leg of the semi-final.
“The fear of losing is sometimes greater than the will to win. That’s quite ironic. I drove here today and I was like: ‘We’re not going to lose this,’” the manager said as she gripped a glass of champagne.
“I’ve played this out in the Curnock Street estate [in Camden, north London, where Hayes grew up]. I’ve entered that pitch every day as a nine-year-old about to play in the Champions League final. Oh my God, my dreams came true today.”
Hayes, whose side will now face Barcelona after a 4-1 victory sent them through 5-3 on aggregate, admitted she was delighted when she saw that Bayern Munich had switched to 4-4-2 from the 3-5-2 that was so successful at stopping the potent Chelsea forward line in the first leg.
“The last time we failed to score was a cup game against City in 2018, we know we can score,” she said. “Once I saw they lined up with four at the back I thought: ‘Happy days. I’m going to get Fran [Kirby] into those spaces and they are not going to see her coming.’”
Kirby would provide the opener and slip the ball into an empty net at the close, with Bayern’s goalkeeper upfield. “Fran has been driving me mad all year telling me we’re going to get to this stage and she would deliver, she delivered. I always thought if this was a counter game then game on.”
The Chelsea manager went round at the final whistle to try to offer words of comfort to the devastated Bayern players. Their manager, Jens Scheuer, did not think the better team won. “We’re very disappointed,” he said. “Chelsea put in a better performance but they were not the best team over the two matches. They were just more clinical today. We committed too many individual mistakes today and we were made to pay for it.”
For Hayes, this was the biggest game of her managerial career, but now a bigger one lies ahead, in Gothenburg on Sunday 16 May. “We are here to win it, let’s be clear,” she said. “I am happy to play Barcelona in a one-off game, in a neutral venue. Why? Because Spanish teams are tricky.
“We know how well they possess the ball. I know how good they are, I respect them, I respect their model, I think it mirrors us in a lot of ways except the type of players they bring and their style might be different. I respect them immensely but we’re going there to win it.”