When Emma Hayes signed Ji So-yun in 2014, she claimed the South Korean was “top-of-the-line midfielders on the earth” and promised followers they’d love her.
It was clear to see on Sunday, as Ji ran out of the tunnel to a roar from the group, with a “champions” flag draped throughout her and an enormous smile on her face, that Hayes’ promise had come true.
The followers do love her and Ji’s trophy cupboard throughout her time at Chelsea marks her success.
After the Blues wrapped up a 3rd successive Ladies’s Tremendous League title with victory over Manchester United on Sunday, Ji turned one among solely 4 gamers to have gained the competitors 5 occasions.
This weekend, she is going to chase a fourth FA Cup medal when Chelsea tackle Manchester Metropolis, so as to add to the 2 League Cups and the Group Protect she has additionally gained.
It will likely be her last recreation for the membership at Wembley – a becoming area for her send-off the place, seven years in the past, her purpose proved to be the winner within the first Women’s FA Cup final to be held on the nationwide stadium.
When Ji joined Chelsea in 2014, the membership wasn’t the trophy-winning machine that it has since turn into.
Chelsea normal supervisor Paul Inexperienced was a part of a membership delegation who managed to influence Ji to maneuver to west London. Recollecting that assembly along with her agent, which happened in a baseball bar in Japan’s capital, Tokyo, Inexperienced tells BBC Sport it was a large coup to have the ability to persuade Ji to hitch a membership that was “nonetheless in our infancy”.
She did not converse any English at first however he says she “settled fairly shortly” on the sector, and after her first season she was named PFA participant of the 12 months in 2015.
Over time she developed right into a “legend” for the membership, he mentioned, in addition to the WSL as an entire.
“She’s bought to go down as one of the best import into the league in WSL historical past for what she has contributed to the workforce’s success and among the particular person success she has had,” mentioned Inexperienced, who works alongside Hayes every day.
“If somebody would have mentioned to us that evening within the baseball bar, that we might have had Ji for eight years, I do not assume anyone would have believed that due to the place we have been at the moment, and the place she was and the potential she had.
“It has been a partnership that is labored very well. She’s been good for us, we have been good for her.”
Ji was the primary South Korean to play within the league and the primary non-British participant to make 100 and 200 league appearances.
Sunday’s substitute look was her 124th within the WSL and she or he has contributed to 66 objectives – scoring 37 and aiding 29.
|Begins||109||Sort out success||64.24%|
|Whole appearances||124||Passing accuracy||83.2%|
This season alone, she has assisted 5 objectives in 12 league video games, in addition to creating 11 probabilities.
Somebody who has skilled the troublesome activity of developing towards Ji, former England and Everton participant Lindsay Johnson, instructed BBC Radio 5 Dwell that she was an clever participant who was “so troublesome to get the ball off”.
“She’s so influential on the ball and really artistic,” she mentioned. “She will be able to open the sport up and discover passes which you simply do not assume are on.”
‘Life and soul of workforce’
Except for her footballing capacity, Ji’s character has additionally left an enduring impression on her team-mates and the teaching workers.
Chelsea striker Sam Kerr mentioned: “Ji is clearly class on the sector however she’s a personality off the pitch too that we’ll positively miss.”
The South Korean is somebody who at all times has “a smile on her face”, mentioned Inexperienced. “She’s a really humorous character – the life and soul of the dressing room, at all times having amusing and a joke with team-mates and workers members.”
Inexperienced mentioned the workers used to joke that she would use the language barrier to her benefit.
“She is such a likeable character. We used to wind her up that she solely knew English when it suited her. If she wished a time off or a pay rise then she’d have the ability to ask for that in English, anything – like contributing in workforce conferences and answering questions – she’d chorus from doing that.”
Ji has performed a key position in Chelsea’s run to the FA Cup last this season, scoring within the 2-0 win over Arsenal within the semi-finals and beginning three of their 4 video games en path to Wembley.
Her introduction at half-time in Sunday’s title win was essential in turning across the 2-1 deficit to win 4-2.
“Ji wished at the present time in entrance of the followers. She wished to be instrumental and she or he was,” Hayes mentioned after the midfielder paraded her newest piece of silverware and was honoured in entrance of the house supporters.
Hayes mentioned Ji has been “an honour to teach” and was unquestionably “probably the most profitable participant from exterior our league” as she departs, alongside team-mates Drew Spence and Jonna Andersson.
“We have been by issues collectively of their lives, on the pitch and off the pitch. These three are driving requirements all week as a result of they perceive what Chelsea is,” added Hayes.
“Even on the way in which out they need to go away as champions. I do know Ji leaves with an enormous stamp on everyone’s coronary heart. I’ll miss her terribly.”