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Double season clinches award for boss Hayes

Camden-born Chelsea coach scoops top gong, as Arsenal striker Mead is also recognised

08 June, 2018 — By Catherine Etoe

Arsenal’s Beth Mead has been named England Women’s Young Player of the Year. PHOTO: ARSENAL FC

HAVING led Chelsea to an unbeaten league season, an FA Cup final triumph and the semi-finals of the Uefa Champions League, inspirational Camden-born football coach Emma Hayes added another flourish to her managerial CV on Friday.

The 41-year-old, who has already been honoured as a Manager of the Year by the League Managers’ Association this season, was crowned FA Women’s Super League Head Coach of the Year at the 20th edition of the FA Women’s Awards.

Arsenal striker Beth Mead also scooped one of the top gongs at the glitzy event in The Brewery in Barbican when she won the fans’ vote as England Women’s Young Player of the Year.

Hot-shot Mead, who finished the campaign as the Gunners’ top scorer with 16 goals in 29 games, has played for England since she was 15, but was only given the chance to prove her worth in a senior shirt in April. The 23-year-old has since rewarded new England boss Phil Neville’s faith in her, though, and on Friday the former Manchester United and Everton player congratulated her on a “breakthrough season”.

Emma Hayes

Mead, who is busy training with the England squad ahead of their FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifier against Russia tomorrow (Friday), later Tweeted: “Very honoured to win this award, I’d like to say a huge thank-you to everyone who voted for me, [it] means the absolute world to me.”

Chelsea, who clinched the title six points clear of nearest rivals Manchester City, were named FA WSL 1 Club of the Year at the ceremony. It was a second double-winning season and a fifth major trophy under Hayes and defender Millie Bright pointed to the manager’s knack for talent spotting as key to their success.

“It’s a family club, an open club,” she said. “And Emma’s recruiting has been unbelievable, she has picked the right players with the right characters and the right mindset.”

Hayes’ own remarkable strength of character has also been writ large this season. The former Parliament Hill School pupil was pregnant for most of the campaign and she gave birth to a baby boy just days after her side secured the double. She had been expecting twins, but a club statement explained that sadly one of them did not make it past the third trimester.

Speaking to the press on Friday, Chelsea and England star striker Fran Kirby said Hayes had been an inspiration all season.

“Emma is a really special manager to work under,” she told the New Journal. “She is a very demanding manager who wants the best, wants ­perfection, because she implements that herself. Ultimately, she is a good person and an honest person.”

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