‘Money is not my motivator’: Emma Hayes has eye on glory as US head coach

UK

She’s the standard-bearer for English coaching – the most successful manager in WSL history – and soon to take the biggest women’s football job in the world.

But sometimes it takes a family chat for Emma Hayes to be reminded of all she achieved at Chelsea that has earned her a shot at World Cup glory with the United States.

“My mum said it to me the other day, ‘You don’t realise what you’ve done’,” Hayes recalled in an interview with Sky News.

“And I said, ‘Why would I? I have not worked a day in my life. I do something I love’.”

Her Chelsea team have reciprocated the affection and attention to detail from the sharpest of managerial minds.

Six Women’s Super League titles have been won since landing at Chelsea in 2012, alongside five FA Cups and two League Cups.

No wonder the US came calling when needing a coach to lead them into this summer’s Paris Olympics and 2027 Women’s World Cup which could be hosted by the Americans.

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Leading the record four-times Women’s World Cup winners will elevate Hayes’ profile.

And the 47-year-old has the character and charisma to charm the US far beyond football.

“I’ve had a really amazing career and…I come from a household where you had to work hard and nothing was a given,” Hayes said.

“So for me to be even in a position to lead a team to an Olympic medal is just what dreams are made of. And I intend to make the most of it.”

Image:
Emma Hayes speaking at an event in January. Pic: PA

‘Money no motivator’

The US role is one that achieves a rarity in football – pay parity with the men’s team counterpart.

It means Hayes could be the highest paid women’s coach in the world by earning more than £1m a year.

She said: “I get to go to an Olympics. I get to go to a World Cup. There is no cash machine in heaven. Money is not my motivator.

“However, I felt valued, and that was important. But for me, the memories will be the things I cherish the most. And hopefully some more medals.”

There is a bigger mission too – paving the way for future generations of coaches.

It is why she is speaking to Sky News at a McDonald’s Fun Football project alongside anti-discrimination group Kick It Out – a mission to encourage coaching and playing careers and a more diverse talent pool.

The fear is people are being priced out of football – seeing the sport as becoming too middle class.

“There’s no denying that, which is why here we can’t scoff at the idea of half a million kids being able to access weeks and weeks of free football and coaching,” she said.

“And most importantly, given the opportunity to bring people together with different backgrounds.”

Image:
Pic: AP

‘Focus on youth’

And, in this election year, what would Hayes do if she was in Downing Street?

“I’ve always valued looking after young people,” she said.

“I would make sure that there is certainly more support for young people up until the age of 18, so that we can develop people into the best adults they possibly can, and to give them the most amount of opportunity. I would absolutely focus on youth.

“One of the things I’ve always wanted to champion is equal access. I want girls and women to be provided with the same opportunities.

“So we talk about having more youth workers or youth clubs. Also I want to get more access for girls in PE in schools. It’s still below that for boys and something that absolutely should be challenged.”

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Hearing Hayes talk shows she is thinking of a legacy far beyond the silverware collected in an illustrious career that, at Chelsea, is just missing a Champions League title that could still come this season.

“The joy is in the service of giving to something, not in the rewards of those things,” she said.

“Not medals, not achievements. And I’m just grateful I’ve been given the opportunity.”

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