In an exclusive interview with sky sportsKayleigh Green talks about the people who shaped her football career, including Chelsea striker Pernille Harder, former Wales boss Jayne Ludlow, Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo, and more…
Ahead of Brighton’s trip to Aston Villa in the WSL – which is live on sky sports Saturday (11.30am kick-off) – Green talks about the key figures who have influenced her career so far, her toughest opponent and the player she would most like to play with.
The Wales international also reveals who has been her biggest inspiration in and out of the game before revealing the player she would most like to play alongside as we take a look at her character career…
The best player you’ve played with…
Green Kayleigh: “It’s definitely Jessica Fish. She’s an incredible, incredible player.
“For Wales she plays as number 10 and I’m number nine so we play very closely together and even looking at her when she played in the WSL for Reading she could find a pass from n’ anywhere. She’s so creative and I’m not being biased because she’s Welsh. She really is one of the best players and what she can do is phenomenal.”
Your toughest opponent…
KG: “I will have to accompany Pernille Harder. What she does on the field is amazing. His movement off the ball is so good. She finds pockets of space and when she speeds up, no one can catch her. Her intelligence, her reading of the game as a footballer, is unparalleled.
“If a young player can look up to anyone in the game, it would probably be more difficult because of what she does off the ball as well as what she does on it. She’s amazing.”
Green: Brighton need to be more consistent
Striker Green Kayleigh on Brighton ending their 11-game losing streak:
“It’s always important to win, especially in this league. It gets harder and harder in the WSL every season. For me and the girls it was all about performance against Reading. If we can keep coming out and putting in performances like the one against Reading, the winning streak and the wins will come.
“We go out and we perform against Chelsea and Arsenal, and if I watch the Arsenal game I think we should have won it. But we need to do it more consistently. If you can perform consistently in this league every week, like we did at the start of the season, it will move us higher in the rankings.
“Unfortunately we didn’t quite take the three points against Arsenal, but every game we watch and we grow, and that’s also exactly what we did after the Reading game too. We don’t think only that we can do everything now after this win, we have to build on it and kick things off.
If you could play alongside just one player…
KG: “I’m going to go with this player just because I think throughout his journey playing at Manchester United, I’ve definitely seen him as a role model. That has to be Cristiano Ronaldo.
“The age he is now and the fact that he is still playing after everything he has achieved in the game, personally I think I could learn a lot from him.
“I think it would be every childhood dream as well as every adult’s dream to be honest to play alongside someone so talented.”
The best manager you’ve ever worked with…
KG: “Two managers come to mind. I would say Jayne Ludlow because if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be a centre-forward right now. When I first met Jayne, I was a centre-back. I was a centre-back for many, many years and it wasn’t until she saw something in me whether it was my spark or my energy and yes she gave me that opportunity and she helped evolve as an offensive player.
“So I would have to say Jayne for that, but if I’m looking for someone who helps my strengths and pushes me and challenges me, I have to say that’s my current boss of Wales. Gemma Grainger. I feel like she understands me as a player and knows how to get the best out of me.
“So it’s Jayne in terms of where she has me, but Gemma in terms of understanding my strengths and nurturing those strengths.”
Green eager to lean on reading goals
Green Kayleigh was back in the goals against Reading and she is eager to build on the confidence gained from those strikes in Brighton’s clash with Aston Villa on Saturday.
Green told Sky Sports: “As a centre-forward and an attacking player, if you get goals under your belt it gives you the confidence to push forward in every game and when that opportunity comes around you have a little more confidence to put another away goal.
“I hope I can build on that. I want to take that confidence out of the Reading game and when that chance comes against Aston Villa, hopefully I can put it aside and score another goal.
Who have you learned the most from?
KG: “Again, I’m going to have to have two people. I’m going to say my mom and dad.
“My dad has always been my rock in football. He has helped me a lot to face challenges, overcome those challenges, never give up and push for what I want to achieve. He is the person I am at the moment.
“I would also say my mum because she was always there through everything in my life. Times were tough with my mum growing up. We were from a housing estate and with no money. The only thing she could showing was love so I have to tell my mom from the personality perspective of things.”
Your inspiration away from football…
KG: “To be honest, he was my dad. He massively inspired me in every decision I made. I don’t want to break down and cry, but he pushed me and he put his arm around me. me and supported me through every decision.
“In life, I haven’t made the best decisions. Some were good, some were bad, but he was always there to support me.
“I’m a family type girl. I could have looked up to someone in football all my life. I could have started being like them or playing like them but coming back to reality and the world we live in today i would like to say that my parents were my biggest influence.
“The background we come from, it wasn’t easy from my mum and dad, but they gave us the best they could. They inspired me to be the best I could be and I think that my career wouldn’t be where it is if it wasn’t for them.”
“We want a first half of the final”
Brighton striker Green Kayleigh:
“As a footballer or a coach, if you don’t look at the table, I don’t know what you’re doing in that kind of job. We want to be able to go out there and we want to be able to compete with the top teams.
“We want to end the season in the top half of the league, and to do that we have to have that consistency in performance. This week is not going to be easy. If you look at the Aston Villa team, they have great players and experienced players, who have played in this league for quite a long time. So it’s gonna be hard
“We can take the positives from the Reading game and see how well we played, but just because we played well in this game doesn’t mean we’re going to come to Aston Villa and play the same way. “It’s going to be tough. Every game is different and every opposition is different. We have to focus on every game.”
And in football…
KG: “To be honest, there wasn’t. It was always my dad.
“I can sit here and invent a name in football, but the truth is that my inspiration in this sport was my father.
“He pushed me to be the best I can be.”
Your best friend in football…
KG:“I’m going to upset some people now, aren’t I?
“I would say Tasha Harding is one of my best friends, without a doubt. I always lean on her in football for everything.
“As in any team sport, you’re not going to get along with everyone on the team, but the one thing you agree on is that once you cross this line, you do it for everyone.
“So yes, you’re going to have best friends. Megan Connolly in Brighton, from the moment she walked through the door, we were always good friends and if I ever needed anyone to lean on in Brighton, it was her.
“She’s sensible, she can calm me down and she can rationalize with me. But in the team environment, it’s important that you understand that you’re not going to be friends with everyone, but once you are on this ground, you are all together.”
Brighton’s solidarity with Ukraine
This weekend Brighton will wear their yellow and blue kit for the match against Aston Villa in a show of solidarity with Ukraine, and Green backed the club’s statement.
She told Sky Sports: “As a club, what we do is make a statement.
“If you look at the Premier League, other leagues and even around the world, there are a lot of people making statements in favor of Ukraine, and I think it’s important as a nation that we let’s do it.
“As a club, I think it’s fantastic that we’re doing this.”
The funniest player you’ve played with…
KG: “There are quite a few. Felicity Gibbons is definitely one. She always laughs and jokes.
“Aileen Wheelan is the joker of the peloton, even in training. She is always playing pranks, scaring people and trying on other people’s clothes. She really gets everyone moving, just like Fliss.
“They have big personalities, but within our squad I could use many different names. We have great personalities within our squad, and everyone brings something different.”
Three famous guests you would invite to dinner…
KG: “I should definitely invite a comedian. I would also say that I would need to have someone who likes sports.
“It’s a difficult question. I feel under pressure!
“Well, I bring Rita Ora because I’m a big fan of his music. It would have to be an old school comedian in Lee Evans.
“The world of sport… no, I bring nessa from Gavin and Stacey. It would be a fun dinner!”
Watch Aston Villa Women vs Brighton Women live on Sky Sports Premier League from 11am Saturday; kick off 11:30 a.m.