‘I was told ‘no’ so many times,’ says striker Chloe Kelly


Lioness and Manchester City striker Chloe Kelly

Lioness and Manchester City striker Chloe Kelly (Image: )

When Chloe Kelly scored the winning penalty in the women’s England team’s World Cup game against Nigeria, the 69mph shot was more powerful than any recorded by a male or female player in topflight English football for the 22-23 season. Kelly’s kick catapulted the team into the quarter finals, and the Lionesses would go on to come second in the tournament.

Yet research from Doritos reveals that only one in six UK adults believe that this record was achieved by a woman. 

As a result, a 2,475 square foot mural of Lioness and Manchester City striker Chloe, 26, has been unveiled in her team’s home town to commemorate the achievement, aiming to ‘crunch’ society’s stereotypes in sport and beyond. 

There are currently 240 statues of sportspeople in the UK, yet only three recognise female athletes. 

A 2,475 square foot mural of the Lioness striker

A 2,475 square foot mural of the Lioness striker has been unveiled. (Image: )

“We still have a long way to go to achieve equality when it comes to women’s sport,” says Chloe, who grew up in west London as the youngest of seven siblings, with five older brothers. 

“Women tend to hold back from saying, ‘Yes I am the best’. So it’s important to share stories of when we have proved people wrong.

“As women, most of us have been told many times in our careers that we’re not good enough, or we’re not male. Opportunities probably haven’t been the same. This has certainly been true in women’s football.”

Incredibly, after it was banned in England in 1921, women’s football only became legal in 1971. 

With such a history of oppression, it made the Lionesses inspirational Euros tournament win in 2022 even more monumental.

The achievement put women’s football and its players on the map, and the sport’s star has risen ever since, with legions of new fans and sold out stadium matches. 

“What we have achieved is incredible, but we’re on a journey and there’s still a lot of work to do to have that equality,” says Chloe.

“But female footballers are more visible than ever after the Euros, and that’s great – we want to inspire the next generation of Lionesses.

“I looked up to Kelly Smith and Rachel Yankey, two idols of mine. But there weren’t many opportunities to see them unless you went to a game. Now we’re on TV, we’re in magazines – people are able to see us, hopefully more than ever.”

And Chloe is keen to use her platform for change.

“I want to shout that we can and will achieve great things if we believe in ourselves. We women need to shut our ears to any negative comments and go for it,” she says. 

Indeed, Chloe was told ‘no’ time and time again as a fledgling footballer. 

“I’ve been told ‘no’ my whole life,” she says.

“I remember playing football with my brothers in a tournament and after the first game we were told, ‘She can’t play on your team’. They were like, ‘Why? We won the first game’. 

“I just wanted to have the ball at my feet and to play with my brothers. But that opportunity was taken away from me because I was female. It was obviously disappointing. But we go again, we break another barrier, we play in a different tournament.”

As women, Chloe says her and her fellow footballers have had a harder hill to climb. 

“Throughout our career that’s what we’ve been made to do – break down barriers. And we still have to do so today,” she says. 

“It’s really important that along the journey you don’t just accept the word ‘no’, because it’s not going to get us where we need to be.

“It’s important to back ourselves as female athletes and encourage other women, no matter what category of life they are in, that we can all achieve great things. Nobody can tell you that you can’t.”

As she looks to the future, Chloe is hungry for more. 

“I want to look back at my career when I hang up my boots and see medals around my neck.

“I want to win world cups, leagues and every title possible,” she says. 

“And I want to keep making my family proud. My brothers were there when I began, accepting me, creating opportunities for me. They were there when I was getting told ‘no’, and it’s great to have them by my side now.”

  • Chloe Kelly has teamed up with Doritos for its ‘For the Bold In Everyone’ campaign, aiming to tackle society’s stereotypes in sports and beyond, encouraging people to push boundaries and embrace their edges.

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