Jess Carter has revealed how her club and country coaches – Chelsea’s Emma Hayes and England’s Sarina Wiegman – have helped her develop as a player and a person.
The defender has become a mainstay in both teams over the last year, following on from a period in the final six months of 2022 when she struggled for game time.
But Carter started in all but one of England’s 2023 World Cup matches as the Lionesses finished as runners-up, and has featured in every WSL game for Chelsea this season.
I’m much happier coming into this season and feeling fitter than last season,” the 26-year-old exclusively told Sky Sports as PUMA launched their new FUTURE 7 football boot.
“I feel like I’ve learned a lot over the years and how to manage myself best to be ready for the game. I’m really happy about that.
“It’s unfortunate that people pick up knocks and niggles after having tough tournaments and games. For me, being fit and available for all of them is what’s been really important.”
Of course, Carter is lucky enough to work under two of the most successful managers in women’s football.
Hayes will leave the Blues at the end of the season after a trophy-laden 12 years, and Carter has credited her with helping both on and off the pitch.
She said: “Going to Chelsea from the young age of 19, she’s definitely helped me to mature over years. She’s helped me to figure out who I am as a person and as a player.
“She’s also paved the way for women in sport and she’s allowed a lot of people to be more vocal. In the media, she’s not afraid to say what she’s got to say and a lot of people don’t do that. When she does, it allows people to have the confidence to also do that.
“Emma has spoken openly about the effects of menstrual cycles and how important it is to understand them and the effects it can have on performance. Talking about it so openly gives a lot of people confidence to do that as well and looking at things further to make sure that we’re all able to play the best we can.”
In contrast to Hayes, Wiegman recently extended her stay with England until 2027. Carter says the manager has allowed her to be herself – one of her two favourite things about the Lionesses squad.
“I can’t praise Sarina enough. She’s an incredible coach, but even more so an incredible person,” she said.
“She’s Dutch so she’s very direct, but it is one of my favourite things about her. She’s so personable, you’re just allowed to be who you are.
“I think that’s something that I’ve struggled with sometimes in football – not always being allowed to be who you are. But she doesn’t really care as long as you’re who you are, doing what’s best for the team as well.
“She wants everyone to be themselves and have a together team and that’s my two favourite things.”
Like most players who feature at club and international levels, Carter has to adapt to different systems and positions for each team and game.
It is in the centre of a back three where she feels her skills are used the best, explaining: “Sweeping up the back end, my physical attributes like my pace and reading of the game, those are probably what I’d say are my super strength. That’s where I can perform my best, I think.
“I’m not left-footed, I’ve never liked playing on the left. But every manager of mine says ‘oh, you can do it for the team’. So maybe one day I’ll be comfortable and they get to go back to the right side, but until then, I’ll have to wind the left foot up.”
For just Chelsea alone, there has been a lot of change at the back this season. All three first-team goalkeepers – Ann-Katrin Berger, Zecira Musovic and Hannah Hampton – have played. The Blues saw Magdalena Eriksson depart in the summer, and Millie Bright injured for a large spell of the current campaign.
There has been rotation too as the Blues compete on multiple fronts, as well as the January arrival of Nathalie Bjorn.
Carter said: “It’s really tough playing with different players constantly. In one way, it’s great because you are getting to play with different players and it means more people are getting opportunities.
“But I feel like you don’t really build something with them. You don’t really learn how to play with each other or connect with each other in the best way when there’s a lot of rotation.
“But having a big squad like we do at Chelsea, it’s something you have to get used to and you just have to find a way to play with different people.”
Carter on how Chelsea are using past CL experiences this season…
“It’s just experiences, like playing in big stadiums and playing against different styles of football – I think that’s what you learn a lot in Champions League.
“You can get used to the way teams play in the WSL so going to different nations and having to play different types of football is something we’ve learned and hopefully you can take it into the next round.”
Carter’s ability to perform consistently this season will only be enhanced by PUMA’s new FUTURE 7 football boots. The manufacturer is one of the few that makes women’s fit boots – specifically designed for female athletes and the different needs they have from male footballers.
“It is huge,” Carter said. “I think that’s part of what makes you want to work with a brand, how they individualise things to suit the players so that you can get the best out of us.
“PUMA are a great example of going above and beyond to try and get the best for the athletes.
“Comfort is the most important thing to me. Then obviously next is what it looks like, but for me, the most important thing is just feeling comfortable in your shoes and once you are, I find that you perform better.
“We’ve not had them for that long, but I wore them playing against Real Madrid and getting through to next stage of the Champions League so it’s not a bad start in the new boots.”
Jess Carter was speaking at the PUMA FUTURE WORLD event in London to celebrate the launch of the PUMA FUTURE 7 – available now.
Watch Chelsea vs Everton on Sunday from 6.30pm on Sky Sports Premier League; kick-off 6.45pm.