Millie Bright: Will her return boost Chelsea’s hopes of silverware?

Millie Bright of Chelsea shows appreciation to the fans
Millie Bright of Chelsea shows appreciation to the fans following the Barclays Women's Super League match vs Bristol City at Kingsmeadow on May 05, 2024 (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Chelsea captain Millie Bright has made her return since suffering a knee injury back in November. This season, the world expected to see Emma Hayes depart with multiple trophies, but chances have faded in recent weeks.

Bright’s role as Chelsea skipper is unmatched and having her back could be crucial in these final fixtures. Now with a return to the England squad ahead of her, has the defender been Chelsea’s missing link?

The Blues have put in a sensational shift to keep this season’s Women’s Super League title hopes alive. Hayes and her side looked down and out but the battle is wide open once again.

The season so far

In November, head coach Emma Hayes announced she would be leaving Chelsea at the end of the season. Set to manage the US Women’s National Team from the summer, Hayes hoped to finish her career with the quadruple. However, this season has not been as straightforward for the Blues. 

After losing the Continental Cup final to Arsenal, and falling to Manchester United in the Adobe Women’s FA Cup semi-final, Chelsea bowed out of the Champions League. The one trophy Hayes is yet to earn with the Blues has evaded her once again. Now, Chelsea’s only hope of a trophy lies in the WSL.

Bright was back in the match-day squad for the first time against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals. She returned to the WSL in the agonising 4-3 loss to Liverpool and then played the full 90 against Bristol City. At this stage in the competition, Bright’s experience and calm nature as a captain are vital for the Blues to maintain their win. 

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The Bright Effect

As the longest continuously serving player at the club, Bright is a well-respected and critical member of the Chelsea squad. 

In 2014, she signed for the Blues from Doncaster Rovers Belles and has stayed at the club ever since. At centre-back, she is a brick wall. Her physicality challenges the opposition, who find it difficult to break down her defence. She has always believed that ‘you win the physical battle first, and then you win the football.’ The captain is certainly a force to be reckoned with on the pitch. 

With the Blues missing out on three trophies already this season, Bright’s return to the team might be the key to keeping their hopes of a fifth consecutive WSL title alive. Handed the captaincy role at the start of the 2023/24 season, the return of a leader cannot be underestimated. Her collectedness and leadership, as well as her physicality and defensive presence, are essential components of Chelsea’s success. 

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The perfect role model

Bright is undoubtedly an inspiration for the next generation of footballers. 

For the Lionesses, Bright has always been an important member of the team. However, at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, she took her game to the next level. With England captain Leah Williamson unfortunately sidelined due to a ruptured ACL, Bright was handed the armband for the tournament. She certainly had some big boots to fill. Captaining the Lionesses is ‘right at the top of her career achievements’ and was ‘a proud moment’ for Bright. 

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Despite coming second to Spain on the world stage, Bright inspired young girls nationwide to follow their dreams. Girls all over the country bought shirts with her name on the back and started to recognise her talent. Both England and Chelsea fans will be excited to see what Bright can do for her side in these final games.

To see her impact on the next generation shows just why she is such an influential and important player, both for club and country.

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