Hayes's exit from Chelsea: I promised myself I would leave at the top
By Matthew Ferris at Cobham Training Ground
Chelsea head coach Emma Hayes spoke with honesty and integrity to the media as she explained her reasons for deciding to leave Chelsea at the end of the season.
After a week of speculation following the club’s announcement at the end of the Aston Villa match, Hayes was finally able provide some much-needed context, despite being unable to confirm her next move.
She said: “I’ve been in post for 12 years and I’ve dedicated my life to this place, and I drive four hours every day, six days a week for 12 years, and I have a five-year-old that needs more of his mummy - for sure that’s important.
“Family matters and I think I’ve dedicated as much as I can to this football club - I’ve loved every minute of it.”
Hayes spoke thoughtfully and passionately about how important it is to her to prioritize family life, and to maintain a balance with her job.
Her commitment to Chelsea has been unwavering, but it has come at sacrifice of the amount of time spent with her son, which is a decision she feels she cannot continue to make.
Confirming that it was 100 per cent her decision, she said: “It is important you know I’m a mum and not many football managers sit up here and talk about that in the same way.
“My little boy has been extraordinary to allow me to do this but its challenging for him… I think there’s still a lot of work to be done in the women’s game for people with children.”
Hayes admitted it had understandably been an emotional week, and her answers to the media’s questions were given with visible emotion and genuineness.
She added: “This is not actually a selfish decision; this is a selfless decision, and this is about putting first some other things in my life and I’m ready for that.
Although her next challenge as US National team head coach seems all but confirmed, Hayes reiterated that she had a contractual agreement with Chelsea and was fully committed to the club until the end of the season.
When asked if a move to America could allow her to experience an incredible lifestyle, she said: “I think picking someone up from school is incredible, you can talk about those experiences; I look forward to picking him up from school, taking him to after school club or doing some other bits.”
Hayes wants to play an important role in helping the club find a suitable successor.
She said: “I think it would be so Chelsea of us to succession-plan my exit so of course I will be involved in those conversations, I think it’s important that we really take the time to evaluate what the best fit would be.”
Hayes will do everything to help give her successor the platform to be successful, and believes the club is in a good place to ensure this can happen.
“This is a wonderful playing squad. I think there’s a wonderful young generation coming through and I will pass the baton in the best way possible to make sure that they’re as successful as I am.”
While she played down her influence in women’s football and praised others’ impact on the game, there is no doubt that her personality, charisma, and relentless professionalism will be missed in this country.
Naturally, she remains focused on Chelsea’s game at Everton this weekend, and praised her players for taking part in what she described as “the most unbelievable training session.”
Hayes was adamant that she wanted to leave Chelsea while still at the top and not outstaying her welcome.
“Those things plague me so it’s not actually an easy thing to do to leave at the top having a world-class team but it’s something that I always made a promise to myself that I would do.”
Undoubtedly, Hayes will be the driving force in ensuring that her players fight to add to the incredible success that she has already overseen at Chelsea Football Club in her final season in charge.