Saturday, June 15, 2024

Nathalie Bjorn interview: Chelsea defender reveals she missed winning feeling while at Everton and talks Emma Hayes’ influence -Dlight News

“For me, it’s about winning. Otherwise it’s not fun,” says Nathalie Bjorn with a cheeky smile. You can see why Emma Hayes made the defender her final Chelsea signing.

It’s been all change for the Swedish defender as she swapped Everton for Women’s Super League leaders Chelsea in the January transfer window. But it has been a seamless transition.

Bjorn has settled into a Chelsea defence that needed improvement and reinforcement in the wake of Millie Bright’s injury. She has played five matches since moving to the Blues, who have kept four clean sheets and conceded just once with their new Swedish defender on the pitch.

The extent of the calf injury Bjorn sustained against Everton last time out is still to be determined ahead of such a huge game at home to Arsenal, live on Sky Sports. Chelsea could do with the defender being fit and available, if that run of clean sheets is to continue in such a huge contest.

“It’s nice to win games and have that winning feeling again,” she says about her time at Chelsea. “I missed that feeling and being able to play for trophies.

“And then of course as a defender you always want to keep a clean sheet, so that’s a confidence boost.”

Chelsea rate Bjorn highly at the club. Manager Hayes said the defender is “growing into the shirt” after scoring her first goal for the club at Leicester earlier this month – and the Blues manager’s interest in Bjorn is long-standing.

Chelsea, after all, came in for Bjorn two and a half years ago when the centre-back was playing for Rosengard back in her homeland. The move didn’t materialise due to both sides not being ready, so Everton was her next point of call. “I was young and I needed to play so I chose something different,” she reveals.

Now she has her move – and it’s been a big jump, going from a team fighting relegation to a side with four trophies in their sights. It’s not the easiest of transitions.

Enter the player management skills of Hayes. Even the last player through the Chelsea door in terms of signings got the best possible welcome.

The topic of Hayes’ legacy in women’s football emerges. “It’s been massive,” Bjorn says. “Now I get the honour to work with her for her last few months at Chelsea.

“But what she’s been doing for women’s football and for Chelsea as a club, I don’t think people really understand unless they have been behind the curtain and see everything, all the fights she’s been taking. Being able to work with her now and see the environment she has created, it’s great.

“She’s a very good person, a good coach and she really made me feel welcome, that I could be myself at the beginning. That made a huge impact on me and made sure I could transition easily to the games.”

It just goes to show that Chelsea will not just lose this guaranteed success when Hayes departs in the summer – the club also loses the figurehead at the top of an elite environment at the Cobham training ground. It will be some act to follow.

“It’s top-class players, one of the best teams we have in Europe,” says Bjorn about the increased training levels she has witnessed at Chelsea since moving from Everton.

“You need to go out in training sessions and be the best version of yourselves, you need to be spot on in training. It’s different but I’m really enjoying it.

“It’s hard and difficult. There are quality players in every position. When you go to training, you have to be 100 per cent. You have to be spot on in the session, otherwise someone will score, someone will dribble past you.

Bjorn has praised the quality of her new Chelsea team-mates
Bjorn has praised the quality of her new Chelsea team-mates

“That, for me, is one of the reasons I joined Chelsea. It’s because I want to be there all the time, I want to go out in every training session and be 100 per cent. Because I want to develop my game. Taking that step and playing, training with these players will only make me grow.”

What are the secrets to such a competitive training environment? “We play a lot of games,” Bjorn reveals. “It’s good because you are in situations that can occur during a game.

“Of course, it’s not exactly the same but you have to take decisions and play against world-class players. It’s all to make us prepared for the game.”

And it’s a big one up next with Arsenal. It’s a game that could blow this Women’s Super League title race wide open – but Chelsea’s winning machine will be ready for it.

Friday 15th March 6:30pm

Kick off 7:00pm

Watch Chelsea Women vs Arsenal Women in a potentially title-deciding Women’s Super League clash live on Sky Sports this Friday from 6.30pm; kick-off 7pm

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