Women's Team

Walsh: It’s crazy how far we’ve come!

Keira Walsh says she has to pinch herself to believe City are in the Champions League Final.

A lifelong Blue born in Rochdale, City and England’s midfield maestro is counting down the seconds to Saturday’s eagerly-awaited European clash against Chelsea.

Having grown up watching her beloved team in the late 90s and early millennium, Walsh’s first memories were not always memorable for the right reasons!

However, having lived through the incredible journey of City’s rise to success, the 24-year-old says she is loving every moment and is able to appreciate the ride all the more as a result.


“If I’m honest, I’d have never have imagined us being in the Champions League Final!” she declared.

“I remember watching the game where we lost 8-1 at Middlesbrough! Looking back from then to now, it’s crazy how much the team has changed!

“Sometimes, you have to sit back and think about how far the Club has come. This is a massive milestone.

“I think it’s summed up by the fact that when I first started watching City in the Champions League, I was always so nervous. I remember watching the draws and thinking: ‘Who are we going to get? We don’t want Real Madrid or Barcelona!’

“Sometimes, I couldn’t even watch the games! If they gave the ball away or the other team had a shot, I was always scared we’d lose.

“Now, in the draws, I’m confident that we’ll progress – whoever we get. You have to beat those teams to win the tournament anyway but now, I feel so confident in the ability of the players, knowing we can beat anyone on the day.

“I can actually sit and enjoy the game because I know how good we are!

“There’s been a shift in the mindset. When you come close to success as a player but can’t get past a certain hurdle, you can think: ‘This is never going to happen, there’s something stopping us’ but then, you have to think: ‘No, this can’t happen every year.’

“The men have overcome that and have done so well in the Champions League this year. They’ve set such high standards in the Premier League and that’s something they’ll continue to do. The mentality has completely shifted and at times, they’ve looked absolutely unstoppable.

“They’re all so competitive. I think Ruben Dias in particular has definitely driven that. Nothing gets past him and he’ll be driving that again on Saturday night, for sure.

“I know people have said we’ve had a mental block in the past – not being able to get over the line – but I don’t think it was necessarily a case of that.

“The men play so many games and this year, the squad depth has been so good. We’ve got it right in terms of rotation. All players have played in big games – it hasn’t always been the same starting XI.

“That makes it hard for other teams to work out who is going to play or how we’re going to play because everybody brings something different.

“The philosophy and the playing style has changed so much too and that’s the bit I’ve enjoyed most: watching how we play.

“It’s such exciting football. Even football fans who don’t support City can appreciate good football and the way we play and for me, that’s been the nicest thing to see.

“We’ve set the standard now and as a player for the women’s team, that’s something we’re looking to do as well.

“Hopefully, they’ll get the win and then next season, both of our teams will be in the Final!”

As a City fan, Walsh is often likened to midfield maestro Phil Foden. While the pair differ in their defensive and attacking roles, they are both living the dream of playing for the Club they love.

Foden has played a pivotal role in City’s Champions League journey and Walsh says she would love to see her fellow Blue lift the trophy.

“He is such a talented player,” she hailed. “I always see people calling him the ‘Stockport Iniesta’ and he does move like a Spanish player in the way he plays the game and he sees things other players can’t see.

“He’s incredible for his age. He’ll go on to be regarded as one of the best players in the world because to be honest, he already is!

“We’re both so lucky to have been born in Greater Manchester, growing up watching the games – seeing the struggles when we weren’t as good as we are now – and now seeing where we are at, playing in these big games.

“I never imagined I’d win the league or the FA Cup with City or play in the semi-finals of the Champions League. It’s amazing for us both to be part of that – the history of the Club. It’s special for everyone.

“I watched an interview Phil did after the Everton game and he said he doesn’t know the next time he’ll be in a Champions League Final so he just needs to enjoy it.

“That’s exactly the right way to look at it – it’s such a big thing for players: perspective. It’s not every day you get to play in a Champions League Final and you don’t want the moment to pass you by.

“It is a big moment for the Club but you can get so caught up in the occasion and the nerves that you forget to enjoy it.

“As a City fan, Phil will be absolutely buzzing but he’ll also know what his job is, as they all do, and as fans, we have to trust in that.”

Like any other Blue, Walsh would also love to see Club record goalscorer Sergio Aguero complete his City career in fitting fashion – with a Champions League medal.

Though her hero will always be David Silva, the midfielder says Kun will always be remembered as one of the greats.

“I’m devastated Sergio Aguero is leaving,” she said. “He made every City fans’ dream come true when he scored that goal against QPR.

“He’s a Club legend and he’s done so much for us. We’re all thankful and a Champions League medal would be no less than what he deserves.

“If he can get one or if he can come on and score that winner, it would be written in the stars for him!

“He’s definitely up there as one of the greats. I don’t think I can say he’s above David Silva – he’ll always be my favourite player – but he’s one of the best Premier League strikers; not just City strikers.

“His finishing and movement, the fact he’s always in the right place at the right time… People don’t understand that it’s hard for strikers to do that. It’s not just luck – it’s a thought-out process.

“Those two goals he scored on Sunday were two great goals. The one he scored with the outside of his foot – and the composure he showed… It’s ridiculous how good he is!

“He’s an incredible player and everybody in the Club will wish him the best for the future, wherever he goes.”

Come full-time on Saturday night, should City emerge victorious in Porto, where will Walsh be – and what would she do?

“I’ll probably try to watch the game somewhere with my fellow City fans to get a bit of atmosphere,” she smiled. “That’s something we’ve all missed over the past year or so.

“I can only imagine what it will be like on the final whistle if we’ve won. It would be crazy!


“I think every City fan is going to feel a bit nervous but the way the boys have played this year has been absolutely incredible.

“Personally, I’ll be trying to take it all in. We’ve come such a long way and it’s such a special moment that I want to really enjoy it.

“As a fan, there have been times where I haven’t enjoyed watching – there have been times we’ve struggled and I’ve wanted to turn the television off! But this is such a big occasion.

“I’m not usually overly expressive but if we win, I’ll probably be jumping up and down and dancing around!

“If I’m honest, I think they’re going to bring the trophy home. It’s hard to say as a City fan but I’m confident. City have been unstoppable this year. It’s going to be a great game.”

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