Katie Zelem: The Manchester United Captain is Confident She Can Carry Her FA Cup Winning Streak Into the Chelsea Game - Latest Global News

Katie Zelem: The Manchester United Captain is Confident She Can Carry Her FA Cup Winning Streak Into the Chelsea Game

Beat. Beat. The interview pauses for a moment as defense attorney Millie Turner pokes her head around the corner of the MUTV studio.

“The smallest blow ever,” says Katie Zelem, savoring the irony of her team-mate’s shy interruption mid-speech about how significant the Manchester United team had been on their triumphant journey to the FA Cup.

“I’m glad this interview took place today [Wednesday] and not yesterday because I had no voice,” continues the captain, who gave a brief insight into the players’ celebrations on Sunday evening. “We danced on chairs and sang a lot,” but says the rest “becomes tea.” come stay secret.

Zelem was one of many standout players at Wembley as Man United won their first major title, but she is more of the humble type. Far from talking about her individual contribution, she explains that the achievement is the result of a collective pursuit of success.

Saturday, May 18, 2:00 p.m

Kick-off is 3:00 p.m

“When the final whistle blew it was a mixture of joy and relief. I just thought, ‘Wow, what a journey we’ve had’. I have received so many thank you messages from people and all I can say is ‘No thanks’ because we needed the support and sharing happy moments is the way it should be.

Manchester United captain Katie Zelem lifts the FA Cup trophy
Picture:
Manchester United captain Katie Zelem lifts the FA Cup trophy

“I think it’s important to live in the moment and celebrate it, football doesn’t stand still. We scored the fourth goal and I ran past Hannah Blundell and said, ‘We won the FA Cup’ and she reminded me the game wasn’t over yet but I just knew it.

“Last year we had our best season yet and nothing to show for it. So for us it’s about fighting for trophies as a group – that’s why you sign with Manchester United.”

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Highlights of the Women’s Super League game between Liverpool and Manchester United

All winning teams have unsung heroes, and Manchester United’s is Zelem. She is one of three players, alongside Mary Earps and Maya Le Tissier, to have played every minute of the WSL season, 1,890 in total. And their influence is significant.

The midfielder has created 55 chances to score, the most in the league, and recorded 198 passes into the opposition penalty area, more than any other player in the competition. She also leads well, using her experience and football intelligence to lead and manage this young United group.

Katie Zelem has played every minute of Man United's WSL campaign this season
Picture:
Katie Zelem has played every minute of Man United’s WSL campaign this season

“I never expected this – Manchester United didn’t have a women’s team when I was younger,” she continues. “People must be sick of me talking about how my dreams came true at this club. I feel so privileged to be able to do this and apparently my whole family cried at Wembley.”

“At the final whistle I was struggling to catch my breath, but I’m not a screamer.”

The sincerity in each of Zelem’s answers is endearing and the approach is refreshingly careless, as if we were sitting in a living room chatting over a cup of coffee.

You wouldn’t necessarily expect it, but the 28-year-old readily admits to being a “football freak”, although her reading skills and understanding of the game are so impressive that this fact hardly came as a surprise to the journalist.

“I like looking and comparing league tables,” she says, before pointing out that Manchester City or Chelsea could win the WSL title this year with 55 points, but Man United finished last season with 56 points but only finished second. “You forget how competitive this league is,” she added.

Manchester United meets Chelsea on the last matchday, live on Sky Sports, with the Blues primed to win their fifth straight championship. Not under Zelem’s supervision. With Wembley momentum on her side, the Manchester native believes this is the perfect time to derail Chelsea’s title hunt while ensuring her side make a statement ahead of next season.

Katie Zelem has been one of Man United's most consistent players this season.
Picture:
Katie Zelem has been one of Man United’s most consistent players this season.

“It feels like a completely different atmosphere now playing against Chelsea. We know they are incredible and playing for the title, but we are here to ruin it.”

“Moving to Manchester United is about expecting to be a winner.

“This club has such a rich history. We are so happy that the women’s team has contributed now, but the ambition only grows, it doesn’t die because we won something.”

Conversations become pressure. True to form, Zelem moves through the subject quite effortlessly.

Man United have won three of their four league games on the final day, although their only defeat came in a 4-2 defeat against Chelsea in 2022. So far they have failed to beat the Blues in eight league games despite being eliminated from the FA Cup .

Manchester United beat Chelsea en route to the FA Cup title - but have never beaten the Blues in the WSL
Picture:
Manchester United beat Chelsea en route to the FA Cup title – but have never beaten the Blues in the WSL

Why should that be any different?

“No one is here to just participate. This job comes with pressure, it’s a job like no other, people openly and happily criticize you just for doing your job every day.”

“My mother works for the NHS, no one insults her while she types on the computer. It’s such a unique job and you have to appreciate the pressure, rightly or wrongly.”

“We want to finish on a good note. It’s about taking the achievements with you into the next year. Winning the FA Cup on Saturday would be a big step into next season.”

Watch Man United vs Chelsea live on the final day of the WSL season Sky Sports Football this Saturday from 2 p.m.; Kick-off 3 p.m

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