After seeing out 2022 with a contract extension and an OBE to her name, Chelsea Women midfielder Sophie Ingle sat down to discuss individual highlights, ambitions for collective success and her desire to inspire the next generation.
The Blues ventured to Spain during the winter break, trading the cold of Cobham for the milder climate of southern Europe, as preparations began for our return to domestic duties in mid-January. It was here that our Welsh midfielder took the time to reflect on a successful end to 2022.
Collectively, we had put together a 15-match unbeaten run in domestic and European competition, with 14 wins and one draw between September and the turn of the year. We entered the Christmas break top of the Women’s Super League, and progressed to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Women’s Champions League as group winners.
On an individual level, it was an eventful end to the year for Ingle. The Wales captain signed a contract extension with the Blues, keeping her at the club until the summer of 2025, a commitment she is delighted to see come to fruition.
‘I’m really happy,’ Ingle exclaimed. ‘I remember speaking to my agent and it normally gets to the Christmas period where clubs might speak to you, they might not. I said to them straight away that I want to stay at Chelsea. Thankfully, Paul [Green] got in contact and said they wanted to keep me which is a nice feeling.
‘I’ve worked hard, I’ve potentially earned that new contract, it’s a really nice feeling that Emma [Hayes] and Paul have seen the hard work that I’ve put in. It was nice to get that wrapped up just before Christmas.’
Just days later, there was further cause for celebration when it was announced that Ingle would be receiving an OBE in the King’s New Years Honours. She was awarded this accolade for services to football and her roles as Wales captain, but her primary focus has always been to inspire the next generation to get involved with the sport she loves.
‘It’s massive and to get any award from the British Government is an amazing thing. I just think of it as I’m playing sport and it’s something I love to do, so I shouldn’t necessarily get an award for it. Everything that I have given to Welsh football over the years, I’d like to think that I have given something back and it’s people recognising that, and hopefully inspiring a lot of young girls and boys back home to join in with football.
‘This could be playing, watching, if you go along to support the team you don’t always have to play. I want everyone to enjoy the sport and to gain belief within themselves whatever they go on to do. It doesn’t have to be just football. It’s a massive honour to receive something like that. My family are delighted, they’re probably more excited than I am because they realise how big it is. My mum has seen so many people get MBEs, OBEs, Dames…so it’ll be a really nice day when we go to receive it.’
We have played five matches since returning to action in January, competing across four different competitions. After returning from international duty, Ingle and the squad will be fighting on all fronts with league, cup and European glory in their sights.
‘It’s the money part of the season. You want to win everything and that’s not easy to do. We have a great squad here and Emma brings in players to all have the same ambition. We want to potentially win all of them trophies.
‘Champions League is the one we haven’t got as a club and we all know that is the one we really want. We can’t just forgo the league for the Champions League, we have to be in all competitions at this football club and that’s why we’re all brought in here.’