Interview: Chelsea’s Jonna Andersson

Ben Gilby has been fortunate to spend some time catching up with Chelsea and Sweden star Jonna Andersson. Jonna has played in the World Cup, Olympic Games and UEFA Women’s Champions League in a fantastic career.

Jonna was born and brought up in the city of Mjölby, south-east Sweden and her family played an integral part in her interest in football: “They have always loved football and played football so I think it was an easy choice for me. I started when I was a young age with my big brother in the garden and then I decided to go to a training session and started play for Mjölby AI/FF when I was around 7 years old.”

“My family played an integral part in my development as a footballer. They have always supported me. My dad played football on a quite high level as well so he always wanted to help me get better and better. Then of course all the coaches I have had as well but I still think the support and help from family makes it a lot easier.”

At the age of sixteen, she went to play for Linköping – which was a big step for the young Jonna: “I came as a young player to Linköping, who at that point had a very good and professional squad with so many high quality players. So it was a lot to take in and to learn as a 16 year old girl playing with these amazing players. It was a huge step going from my old club, higher quality, higher tempo, harder sessions and tougher. But I’m glad that I stayed eight years in the club because I feel that I could grow as a player and as a person. I gave myself the time I needed to grow and to develop as a player and with the high level from day one it was the right place for me to be to be a better football player.”

During Andersson’s eight years at the club, they won the Damallsvenskan (top flight of women’s football in Sweden) and the Swedish Cup several times before she made the move to England.

To build and to be even better and progress even further in the Champions League as well you need to have the money. It’s not just for one season, you need to build for a longer term as well and for that you need the money. I’m not saying that it’s the answer but it would be interesting to see for the future if the men’s teams decided to work together and support the women’s team more.”

Jonna emphasised the big step up she experienced with her move to the FAWSL as, despite the Damallsvenskan producing many hugely talented young players, it is not as strong as it was in the past in terms of success in European club football: “The biggest difference between the two leagues, I would say, is the quality in general both in training and games. I think the FAWSL is a higher tempo, better quality and harder in general. And to have that every day in training and in most of the games in the league you have a perfect opportunity to get better and develop.”

Andersson highlighted that for the women’s club game in Sweden to attempt to move back towards its previous strength, some of the big men’s sides such as Malmö, Djurgården and AIK could consider doing more to support their women’s teams: “Of course I think it would help to work together with men’s teams. To build and to be even better and progress even further in the Champions League as well you need to have the money. It’s not just for one season, you need to build for a longer term as well and for that you need the money. I’m not saying that it’s the answer but it would be interesting to see for the future if the men’s teams decided to work together and support the women’s team more.”

Jonna has experienced some incredible moments playing for the Swedish national team, starting in 2012 in the U19 European Championship: “That tournament was amazing! To be with the U19 national team and to win Euros 2012 was unbelievable. A big tournament and an experience in that age was fantastic, and to end the tournament with a gold medal too!”

Four years later came another incredible experience – being picked to represent Sweden at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio where Andersson and her team won the silver medal: “That was very cool. Just to be in a village with all the athletes – it doesn’t matter what sport they were from, it was huge and an amazing feeling. I didn’t play that much during that tournament but I’m very happy and proud that I was a part of the Olympic squad for 2016. The atmosphere in the stadiums was incredible, and to be there with all the audience at these huge stadiums were something I never will forget. And to be a part of this tournament and to end with a silver medal, that’s an amazing achievement from the team.”

Further international success followed three years later at the 2019 World Cup in France. The Swedes had a fantastic tournament which saw them clinch third place. It was a month or so that created more amazing memories for Jonna: “I enjoyed it very much. To play a World Cup is very, very big and I will always remember it. To be with our amazing team and squad, to work hard together every day, to perform in all games and the togetherness we had all tournament that in the end gave us a bronze medal. I’m very proud that I was a part of the World Cup squad and I think the togetherness was a key and reason for why we could succeed.

Andersson is about to celebrate three years playing for Chelsea and in that period of time, standards have gone up and up each season: “I think it was a very high standard with everything already when I came but of course you can see during these three years that things are getting even better. And you know when you are in Chelsea that this club want to win everything – all the titles and that’s fantastic to be a part of this journey. You can see how much Chelsea are pushing this season trying to win everything, we have a quality squad with amazing signings and things that’s happening on and off the pitch that are hopefully going to make us be able to go all the way and fight for all the titles.”

Jonna is clear that the key to Chelsea’s success is Emma Hayes: “Emma is a very good coach who loves football. She has done so much for women’s football and hopefully she will continue this work to grow women’s football for a long period of time. She and all our coaches work together and are very focused. They work hard every day to make us better as a team and pushing us to achieve and to get better all the time.”

As the Swede highlighted earlier, Chelsea have brought in a large number of big name players, particularly over the past twelve months: “I think everyone has been settling in very well. They came into a very good group so hopefully they have felt very welcome from the start and hopefully that made it easier to feel like home. It is a squad full of amazing players with top quality so all the new signings have made a huge impact in training and games so that’s amazing and with all the new signings the squad is even bigger and more competitive than before.”

The standards that Chelsea set themselves are sky-high, and therefore it should not be a surprise that their expectations are equally as high: “A good season for us this season is of course to win all the titles we are playing for. That’s what we want. We want to play a football with high quality but in the end of the day we want to fight for all the trophies and bring them to Chelsea.”

Jonna is clear that she wants to develop herself as a player and provide even more influence on both her club and country team over the coming years: “Hopefully I can continue develop as a player. I want to be even better both attacking and defending. Hopefully I will win a few more trophies with Chelsea and played a few more tournaments with the national team. There’s the Olympics and Euros to fight for in the coming years so hopefully I can be a part of these big tournaments.”