Gilly aims to say cheers to a treble
GILLY Flaherty spent her teenage years working three jobs just to pay her way in the game but this year the defender is targeting a treble of a very different kind at Chelsea.
The one-time PE teacher, football coach and businesswoman started the FA Cup final at Wembley last weekend as the Blues won the first trophy in the club’s history against Notts County.
Yet Flaherty, who only joined Chelsea last season, insists she will not stop there. During her seven-year stint with Arsenal she won it all, including the famous quadruple of 2007.
And the 23-year-old believes more success is in the pipeline with the Blues well-placed in the Women’s Super League and Continental Tyres Cup.
“I’ve come here to win trophies, I wouldn’t have come here if I didn’t think winning everything was possible,” said Flaherty. “We can 100 per cent replicate the success that Arsenal have had over the years and achieve great things.
“I want to win for the players who were already here who haven’t had the chance to win silverware before, and for the staff at the club who are amazing.
“We need to repay the faith and trust that has been shown in us, from the staff right through to the men’s senior team – everyone has been great to the squad and given us the best chance.
“We feel like a part of the club, and I think coming so close last season made people all over the club sit up and take notice of what we are doing and really get on board.”
Chelsea were within touching distance of winning WSL 1 last term but lost out to Liverpool on a thrilling final day.
It would have been the perfect end to Flaherty’s first season at Wheatsheaf Park but when the former Millwall Lionesses academy star ponders her stunning career there is little to complain about.
In 2008 and 2009, Flaherty appeared on the Channel 4 reality TV show ‘Yeardot’, which followed the lives of 15 young people from across the UK, and admits a professional football career was far from her mind.
“I wanted to set up my own coaching company because I wasn’t sure what the future held in terms of being a professional footballer, I never once thought it would actually happen,” added Flaherty.
“I was in Arsenal’s academy at the time and we went through a year of filming, it was a very interactive insight actually.
“I was working three jobs, it was manic.
“I was a primary school PE teacher, a coach at Millwall’s centre of excellence and I opened a franchise with Herbalife while in Arsenal’s academy just to make a decent income, which I still do now. I feel blessed that I’m now living every little girl’s dream.”
Remarkably, an England callup has never come for Flaherty. Upon her signing in 2014, Chelsea boss Emma Hayes described her as “the best uncapped player in the country” and insisted “she will become a bedrock for club and country”.
Hayes’ first prediction has certainly come true; the second is still a work in progress.
“I’m so fortunate that I have a manager in Emma who is probably my biggest fan. She really cares about me, and I take her praise over anybody else’s,” continued Flaherty.
“She offered me the chance to play full-time, professional, when that was a rarity a couple of years ago unless you were on a central contract with England.
“I’ve always said that I want to play for England, I’ve just got to be patient and keep doing well for Chelsea.”
OH YES! Ji So-Yun is mobbed after scoring Chelsea’s FA Cup winner and, right, Gilly Flaherty in action PARTY TIME: Chelsea celebrate with the FA Cup after beating Notts County at Wembley last weekend