Heather O’Reilly

SSE Women’s FA Cup visits Arsenal Community Hub

Heather O’Reilly: “As an American, you hear about Wembley Stadium as the sacred ground. It’s a special place”

Heather O’Reilly was reluctant to even touch the SSE Women’s FA Cup trophy before Arsenal’s big day out at Wembley.

The Gunners are in fine form following their last-gasp semi-final victory over Everton – with just Chelsea standing in the way of O’Reilly getting her hands on the silverware for real.

But with the countdown ramping up to their trip to football HQ on May 5, the midfielder was not prepared to risk any bad luck.

The American has waited a long time for her dream to come to fruition, understandably wary ahead of the grandstand occasion – a rematch of the 2016 final in which Arsenal prevailed 1-0.

“Sorry for being so superstitious,” said the 33-year-old, who joined from Kansas City last year. “I just feel weird about this.

“As an American, you hear about Wembley Stadium as the sacred ground. It’s a special place.

“It’s been a big goal of our entire season and a big personal goal of mine, being here for the last 18 months, to get to the FA Cup final.

“I have a lot of honour to be wearing this crest and this badge and I want to represent everything that it’s about to the best of my ability.

“I’ve not played at Wembley wearing the crest of Arsenal before, and it makes it a little bit sweeter that we’re going to be playing Chelsea, a big rival.

“Our team has a lot of quality and we are a very mature team in terms of experience in big games like this.

“Chelsea are a great side as well, but we have the individual ability and the collective spirit to get the job done.”

Equally enthused is striker Lisa Evans, who joined O’Reilly at the Arsenal Community Hub for a session with young players from the Islington area.

The Scot joined the Gunners from Bayern Munich last summer and has been instrumental in a busy season with both her club side and away on international duty for Scotland.

But Evans’ off-the-pitch impact has also been felt at the Community Hub, which offers local youths the chance to play football alongside classes, which cover everything from literacy and numeracy classes to foreign languages.

“Whether it’s Yeovil away or an FA Cup final at Wembley, it’s all important to us,” said the 25-year-old.

“We just want to do well for each other. It sounds like a cliché, but you just want to do well for the team and the girls and the people that are supporting you and pushing you every day.

“It’s fantastic that younger girls have the opportunity to come here, to train, to meet new people.

“I moved to Germany when I was really young and I wanted to make sure that I made an effort to speak the language.

“I didn’t do any German at school so it was a bit harder, but I’m the type of person that’s very sociable and I wanted to make sure that I would learn the language.

“It benefitted me greatly off and on the pitch – being able to communicate with teammates properly allowed me to be the best I could be in the German league.

“For girls to have the opportunity to learn a language here is a massive thing for them.”

Tickets are now on sale for the SSE Women’s FA Cup Final on Saturday 5th May at Wembley Stadium connected by EE. For more information about tickets and SSE’s involvement in women’s football visit www.sponsorship.sse.com

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