Emma Hayes says “the time is right” for her to leave Chelsea after it was confirmed on Saturday she would be departing the club at the end of the season following 12 years in charge.
The Athletic reported that she is set to take over the U.S. Women’s National Team, and while the 47-year-old said it was her “ambition” to manage at international level, she did not comment when asked about the vacant USWNT post.
Hayes did confirm she would be involved in conversations about hiring her successor at Chelsea and that her departure was “100 per cent” her decision.
“I’ve been in the post for 12 years and I’ve dedicated my life to this place,” she said. “I drive four hours to and from this place 6 days a week… for 12 years. I have a five-year-old that needs more of his mummy, for sure. That’s important. Family matters. I think I’ve dedicated as much as I possibly can to this football club. I’ve loved every minute of it.
“It’s really important that if possible, we can create a succession plan for me, much like (general manager) Paul Green and I do for the players. The time is right. I will work with the club in the succession plan and do everything I can to make sure there is as good as transition as possible so my successor can have the same level of success as I can.
“I’ve taken this team to the top and I always said I wanted to leave at the top. I’ll maintain that. That’s what I want to do. I would struggle going backwards at any point or out-staying my welcome. Those things plague me. So, it’s not actually an easy thing to do to leave at the top with a world-class team but I always made the promise to myself that I would do that.”
Hayes has been in charge of Chelsea since 2012 and previously worked in the U.S. as manager of Chicago Red Stars and technical director of New York Flash.
Hayes, a fluent Spanish speaker, admitted in an interview in September 2022 her dream job was to coach Spain and she reiterated her desire to work in international management.
Emma Hayes’ flexibility could bring much-needed fresh start to USWNT: Analysis
“As a little girl I always thought maybe one day that (a national team job) would come,” she added. “For most of us we don’t necessarily fulfil every dream we have. I probably say that would always be an ambition of mine to do that.
“I think I’m just at the point where I have to consider something else. That’s the position I’m in right now. I don’t contemplate anything more than taking these decisions don’t come easy. For some it might come as a surprise or a shock last week. I’m putting the team and the club first. I want to give our football club the right preparation time so they’re ready to continue after me.”
Chelsea had never lifted a major trophy prior to Hayes taking charge and have won six Women’s Super League titles, five FA Cups and two Continental Cups during her tenure.
She is the longest-serving manager in the WSL and explained she would have a role to play in planning for life at Chelsea after her departure.
“Paul Green and I have run this team and this club for the entire time I’ve been here with a succession plan at every juncture,” Hayes said.
“I think it will be so Chelsea of us to succession plan my exit so of course I will be involved in those conversations. It’s important that we really take the time to evaluate what the best fit will be. It’s not about like-for-like replacements. That’s usually the wrong thing to do. It’s about identifying what the needs are for the players and the club. Collectively, we will do that together.”
Chelsea return to WSL action on Sunday when they face Everton.
What next for Chelsea after Emma Hayes?
(Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)