Lioness Chloe Kelly reminisces about playing in cages as a child

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Lioness Chloe Kelly learnt football in tough cagesChris Hyde - FIFA - Getty Images

Chloe Kelly is the youngest of seven, and has five older brothers. As a child, she was regularly out having a kick-about in the street and at the local 'cages' with her older siblings, which are enclosed football pitches commonly found around inner city council estates.

She told the Evening Standard that her childhood taught her a lot about bravery, and that she tries to tap in to those nostalgic feelings of proving people wrong and having fun when she is playing.

‘You had to hold your own against the boys, against players that didn’t respect you when you first walked in there. They definitely do as soon as you leave

‘It is really important to have that personality that I try to bring on the pitch. I try to just be creative, free and just play with a smile. That little girl is still inside me, the one that loves playing football. Being at such a huge tournament, that’s exactly what I am going there to do. I am going there as the little girl Chloe Kelly that just loves playing football.

‘There will be so many kids that dream of playing at a World Cup, and that’s all I think about. One day, I was that little girl with this huge dream.’

Her mum had no doubt that she had a future star player on her hands.

Jane Kelly, told Sky News: 'Once she started in the cages, there was no letting go. She used to come in, she had cuts on her knees… I used to say to her "well don't go then". And she'd still go back the next day. She was tough as old boots.'

Chloe told Time Out that it was learning the game in those intense and overcrowded pitches that laid the foundations for her future career.

She said: ‘I think my game is the way it is today, because of learning my trade that way rather than being coached. When you play cage football there's not many rules, it's just go and be free and enjoy yourself and because there's so many people on that pitch you have to use your skill to get out of certain situations, but it's very physical at the same time, you're getting bounced off the cage fence.

‘Now, when I look at my career, I think I wouldn’t have been the player I am without those moments in the cages with my brothers being tough on me. I go there sometimes when I come home to see kids playing and it brings back so many memories, just walking past.’

Fast-forward to 2023, and Chloe plays for Manchester City and is one of the star strikers of the England Women's Football team, the Lionesses.

Here's everything you need to know about the 25-year-old star...

When did Chloe Kelly start playing for England?

Now aged 25, Chloe Kelly made her first senior England appearance in November 2018 when she was just 20. She might’ve been young but Chloe was no stranger to the international scene thanks to her history in the U17s, U19s and U20s teams.

Chloe won a bronze medal at the FIFA U20s Women’s World Cup in August 2018, before moving onto the senior team.

She also made history last July when the Lionesses headed into extra time in the UEFA Women’s Euro’s final when England played Germany. A late substitution changed the game and led to the winning goal and the Euro’s title – and that goal came from her. The image of her celebrating, shirt held aloft in one hand, was seen across the world.

In a post-match interview with Yahoo she said: 'I am always taking my shirt off and going crazy!' She also described the win as 'what dreams are made of'.

She also told Time Out that she planned to get the iconic sports bra framed.

But it almost wasn’t a dream come true as Chloe Kelly only just made it into the Euro 2022 squad following a knee injury in 2021. A collision with Birmingham City player, Rebecca Holloway, saw her leaving the pitch on a stretcher.

Thankfully, she recovered in time and got us all singing Sweet Caroline at the top of our lungs over summer.

Has Chloe Kelly won any awards?

Besides bringing football home in July 2022, she helped her domestic club, Manchester City, win the Women’s FA Cup in 2020.

Individually, the 5ft 6 (168cm) striker has scooped up City’s Player of the Season award in 2021, as well as winning Player of the Month for the Women’s Super League in September 2019.

Where can I follow Chloe Kelly on social media?

Chloe has more than 463,000 Instagram followers (@chloekelly), who get to see snaps of her life, her family, and training shots.

In one post on her grid, you’ll find her in a sleek, stylish outfit in front of the Eiffel Tower, while in the next, she’s back on the pitch showing us all how it’s done.

You’ll also find her on Twitter (@Chloe_Kelly98) talking all things football-related. She even revealed the safe spot she keeps her Euro’s medal: 'I’ve still got my medal in my underwear drawer!'

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