Jayne Ludlow, who joined Arsenal in 2000 and quickly established herself as one of the best box-to-box midfielders, has shared her thoughts ahead of tonight’s UEFA Women’s Champions League final in Cardiff.
Currently the Wales women’s national football team manager and UEFA ambassador, Ludlow was questioned about her football debut, memories from playing as well as current aims with Wales.
On why she started playing football, she said, “Look, football was my first love.
“I grew up in a family of football-mad people. My dad was a player: as a young player, he was down on Swansea City’s books, so he was a decent player – he’d love me saying that, too!
“So, as a young female growing up, my Saturday afternoons were spent in Blaenrhondda Park, in the Valleys of South Wales, and I enjoyed them immensely. I wanted to be on the pitch with the lads. That was my upbringing and I loved every minute of it.”
Arsenal Ladies’ all-time leading goalscorer was also asked about her favourite memory, having lifted the 2007 UEFA Women’s Cup final with the Gunners.
“Lifting the trophy, I guess. I could relive every single second of that day: it’s embedded in my memory. Whether it’s the ice bath in the morning or the food that we ate. But I’d say lifting the trophy because there’s the relief that comes over you, the sense that ‘we did it!'”
Things are being put in place to ensure that more young girls participate regularly. As Wales women’s manager Ludlow knows it’s important she uses her position to inspire the younger generation.
On how they inspire youngsters she said, “The thing that we’re trying to do as a group of staff, together with everybody involved in the association to do with the women’s and girls’ games, is to make sure that we create an environment that’s enjoyable for the young girls. They start kicking a ball around because they like it, so we make sure that the environments we’re setting up and creating are those environments.”
Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain are set to go head-to-head in Thursday’s final and Ludlow was also asked about whether she herself was excited about the all-French encounter.
“What I do hope is that we get lots of local people down to the event in Cardiff on 1 June to witness what’s going to be a fantastic, competitive event. So, it’s more important to my youngsters than Christmas this year.”
Lyon will be eager to record their second successive Champions League triumph and retain the crown they won last season during a 4-3 penalty shootout victory over VfL Wolfsburg.
It’s PSG’s second appearance as a finalist and they’ll be hoping to avoid history repeating itself after they lost 2-1 to 1. FFC Frankurt in the 2014/15 campaign.