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I’ll cry my eyes out – Emma Hayes braced for emotional Chelsea farewell

Chelsea Women manager Emma Hayes received the Football Writers Tribute Award in London on Sunday (Zac Goodwin/PA)
Chelsea Women manager Emma Hayes received the Football Writers Tribute Award in London on Sunday (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Emma Hayes expects to “cry her eyes out” during the final weeks of her hugely successful spell as manager of Chelsea Women.

Hayes, 47, will end 12 years in charge of the side at the end of the Women’s Super League season to take over as head coach of the United States.

Asked if she expected to have mixed emotions come the time to say goodbye, Hayes said: “I don’t think they’ll be mixed, 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…

Emma Hayes
Emma Hayes is nearing the end of a successful spell at Chelsea (John Walton/PA)

“I think I’m now at a point where I’m looking forward to being in the crowd, coming back and hopefully watching Chelsea in many finals. I’ve done my bit and I certainly hope they welcome me back as a fan because that’s how I see myself.”

Having masterminded a period of complete dominance for Chelsea, who have won six Super League titles, five FA Cups and two League Cups since 2015 and top the table again after Sunday’s 3-1 win over Manchester United, Hayes will soon take on a very different challenge in international football.

“I think the whole thing is a huge challenge,” Hayes said. “It’s a lot less hands-on with the players but it means I need to develop another side of myself. I have to work with the team off the pitch in a much different way to prepare for major tournaments.

“I’m so excited to go to an Olympics and a World Cup. It’s what dreams are made of.”

Emma Hayes' FWA Tribute salver
Emma Hayes became the first female recipient of the FWA Tribute award (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Hayes was speaking after becoming the 42nd recipient of the Football Writers Tribute Award, and the first woman to receive the honour.

“It’s worrying to be quite honest,” Hayes said of being the first female recipient. “But we’re here, we can’t go backwards and I’m looking forward to seeing a number of females representing the game in the room.

“I’ve never taken my position lightly or for granted. I’ve always loved the job I’ve done and to be here is a special day for my family.”

Although Hayes has piled up honours, as she reflected on her career so far she said the greatest achievement was in helping to grow the women’s game, which has developed massively during her time in the sport.

“I was playing a Lego game with my son the other day and he thought I was the female manager on the sideline,” she said. “He just automatically assumes women manage teams, whether they are men’s or women’s teams. The pinch-me moments are more about that than anything else.

“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 Millie Bright is or Sam Kerr is. I think those are the moments I pinch myself about more than I do the achievements.

“All I really wanted as a child was role models. To think they have them is my favourite achievement.”