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‘I needed this more than I realised’

Emma Hayes is revelling in her new role as the United States Women’s National Team head coach.

The 47-year-old left Chelsea at the end of the season having won a fifth Women’s Super League title with the Blues, beating Manchester City to the crown on the final day.

She jetted Stateside just a few days after the victory celebrations and is getting straight down to business ahead of the 2024 Olympics.

The USWNT have been feared across the globe for much of their existence, but in 2023 they had their worst-ever performance at a World Cup and were knocked out by Sweden in the last 16.

Since then, they have dropped from the No.1 ranked side in the world to fourth, another low for the national side.

But with Hayes now at the helm, there is a renewed sense of belief and hunger across the board.

Sitting down in New York with the BBC, she said: “I needed this more than I realised.

“We all know this is a nation that expects to win.

“It’s important that everyone here focuses on the processes and the steps that we need to take to be able to perform at the level that’s required to do that. It’s going to take time.

“Going to the Olympics for me is a dream.

“I pinch myself that I get to lead the women’s US national team at the Paris Olympics.

“You spend so much time thinking that success is merely medals. For me it’s so much more than that.

“It’s being in the position I’m in and having the privilege to lead again another fabulous football team.

“That’s a gold medal for me, but if I am to get any medal in this tournament for sure it will be an unbelievable summer.”

Hayes has already selected her first squad as head coach and the players will be keen for her winning mentality to rub off on them ahead of the Olympic games in Paris.

The veteran manager won 14 trophies in 12 years with Chelsea but says her new job is the biggest gig in the world when it comes to women’s football.

She added: “I don’t care what anyone says, it really is.

“For me, it’s a little bit like Brazil in the men’s game. Historically what this team has stood for, what they have advocated for, what they have represented as women not just in this country but to the women’s game worldwide.

“It’s fitting for me to be with them and vice versa. I think we are coming together at the right time.

“I’m focused on building something again. It’s building trust, it’s building relationships. They are my biggest priorities.

Hayes revealed she has already been to 40 of the 50 United States and loves so much about the country she will now be residing in.

But her new job is not going to be an easy ride and patience may be required to restore the USWNT’s dominance on the international stage.

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