In her ten-year tenure as Blues boss, the 45-year-old has won five Women’s Super League titles, four FA Cups and two league cups while achieving a win-rate of nearly 70%.
But now, the West London side face an uncertain period as Hayes withdraws from duties to recover from surgery as part of her struggle with enometriosis, a long-term condition which causes cells similar to womb lining tissue to grow outside of the womb which affects about 1 in 10 females.
On social media, messages of support for the Londoner have been pouring in, while the weekend’s games offered an opportunity for the players to show their love for the legendary coach.
Hayes’ own players warmed up at Walton Hall Park wearing shirts which read ‘Get Well Soon Emma’ in a touching tribute, while up in the Midlands, Graham Potter’s Premier League side donned identical shirts as they made preparations to face Aston Villa at Villa Park.
The Blues could rise as high as second in the WSL table with a win away at Everton on Sunday afternoon, when assistant managers will be standing in for Hayes, with Denise Reddy filling in on the touchline, and Paul Green stepping up to media duties.
A statement made by Hayes to the official Chelsea website read: “Last Tuesday I underwent an emergency hysterectomy following my ongoing battle with endometriosis. I’m now in recovery and will need time and patience to return to full health.
I just want to say thank you also to my amazing doctors, Dr Alex Laurence and Dr Sally Harris for their outstanding care. A huge thank you to our owners, the board and our HR director, Jo Stone, for the support they’ve shown and of course all of my family, staff and players.
Throughout my absence, Denise Reddy will be making the on-field decisions along with Paul Green who will be carrying out all press obligations on my behalf.
We have built a tremendous team over many years and we’ve adopted a very multi-disciplinary approach so that if situations like this arise, we are capable of being able to respond to the challenge. We have full confidence in Paul, Denise and all of the staff.
We also know the team are very special and we have no doubt they’ll do everything to maintain their high standards.
To our fans, you’ve had to listen to me bellowing from the other side of the pitch every week but now I want to hear you even louder because I’ll be sitting at home watching the team on the television until my return.
I know you’ll respect that my health comes first and at this time I’ve got to prioritise what I need to do for me. I fully expect to make a full recovery and I look forward to seeing you in the foreseeable future.”