Emma Hayes said her Chelsea players would “go down in history” after defending their FA Cup crown in front of a record crowd at Wembley to complete the domestic Double.
Their victory over Manchester City in extra time came seven days after Chelsea won a third successive Women’s Super League title.
It is the club’s fourth Women’s FA Cup trophy – all of them under boss Hayes.
“I’m just so happy. Those women will go down in history,” she said.
“I will look back in 10 years’ time and go ‘that group was immense’. They are the best team I have ever coached.
“We have a group of people who won’t be on the losing team. They will find a way.”
Hayes was emotional in victory at Wembley as she kissed the Chelsea badge in front of fans at full-time and beamed as she led the team up the steps to collect their winners’ medals.
She later showed the media her gold medal after holding back tears discussing the legacy of departing trio Jonna Andersson, Drew Spence and Ji So-yun – the latter signing a shirt for Hayes which she showed off during the media conference.
Asked where this latest victory sat in her long list of achievements, Hayes said: “This is top, easily. I love my football club and this is for my football club.
“This is for Bruce Buck [chairman] and for Marina Granovskaia [director]. This is for the people who work at the football club.
“We’ve had a tough year with the sanctions and that is for everyone at this football club. I will be having copious amounts of champagne – bottles of it. I will be going across the street and making sure that someone carries me home.”
‘They underestimated us’
Chelsea were made to work for their victory at Wembley as Manchester City came from behind twice and equalised in the 89th minute to take the game to extra time.
Gareth Taylor’s side were dangerous throughout, creating numerous chances in an enthralling encounter which former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis described as “the best FA Cup final I have witnessed”.
City got the better of Chelsea in March when they met in the League Cup final and Hayes said that defeat gave her side extra motivation and a refusal to be beaten.
“We were a little underestimated if I’m honest, by the opponent. For the work we’ve done, I think they underestimated us and I think that motivated the team,” said Hayes.
“We’ve won a lot of titles. Everybody’s playing style is different but we have a character and a belief among the group. We can dig in in the hardest moments.
“Our strategy was aggressive, dangerous and risk-taking but spot on.”
‘The future is bright for City’
Hayes said she loved coming up against Manchester City as it is “football at the highest level”.
The two sides have developed a strong rivalry in recent years as Chelsea’s dominance of domestic football has only been punctured by City’s success in the cup competitions.
City have won two FA Cups and two League Cups in the past four seasons – the same number as Chelsea – while only Arsenal’s success in 2019 has broken a run of five league titles in six years for the Blues.
“You have to take your hat off to them,” said City manager Taylor. “What they do, they do really well. We found a difficulty playing against that.
“When you look at what they have done over the past three or four years and the finals they have been to. Outside of us, no other team has taken a trophy really.
“We’re proud of that and we’re proud to be here again. We are disappointed but we know we can do it. We know we’re there and we have areas to improve. We have a lot of good young talent coming through at the club so the future is bright.”
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