It might be cliche to talk about things like belief and confidence and self-fulfilling prophecies, but it is often those mental qualities that make the ultimate difference at the highest levels of professional sports. When the participants all come from the upper echelons of technical and physical skill — and Chelsea certainly have assembled a sparkling collection — it’s the mental attributes that often decide the winners and losers, that separate the legends from the nearly-heroes.
As Emma Hayes revealed after Chelsea’s rousing 4-1 Women’s Champions League semifinal second leg win over Bayern Munich on Sunday, that sort of mentality is precisely what enabled Chelsea to overcome the 2-1 first leg deficit.
“Anybody that knows anything about winning, knows that it’s more than just talent, it’s everything else that goes around it. I’m happy for all the people that have helped us get to this point.”
“[...] everybody felt even though we lost last week, that we can do this. That is what the difference is. When we played Lyon a couple of years ago, before we got into the first leg, I don’t think the players really believed we could do it until half-time and that’s what we learnt from the past. Now it’s different, even at 2-1 down. Some came up to me at the end and said I told you we would do it!”
Hayes called her players “mentality monsters”, showing them a video of MMA fighter Rose “I am the best” Namajunas prior to the match to help set the right tone.
“I described us as mentality monsters. Block all the noise out, don’t hear anything, we are the best, we are the best, we are the best.
“The team and its spirit and everything around it have demonstrated why we are going to the first final as an English team in a long time.”
The last and only English team to contest a Women’s Champions League final were Arsenal in 2007, who beat Umeå over two legs — Alex Scott scoring the only goal of the 180 minutes, which is quite impressive considering that Marta played for Umeå at the time.
The assistant at Arsenal back then was of course none other than Emma Hayes, who’d take over Chelsea some five years later and begin the long process of creating the juggernaut we get to see today. Winning now would mean even more, and it is of course the only outcome that we may entertain.
“We are there, we are in the final and we are here to win it. Let’s be clear about that but I will be clear in saying I’m going to enjoy this moment. I’ve worked too hard not to do that and so has everybody else.”
-Emma Hayes; source: Chelsea FC
Chelsea will face Barcelona, also
in their first ever final looking for their first trophy, on Sunday, May 16, in Gothenburg, Sweden.