Kelly credits cage football upbringing for sensational form

Chloe Kelly has starred for Everton this season

Everton hotshot Chloe Kelly learned her trade playing cage football on an estate in west London but is making the Women’s Super League look like a walk in the park now.

The 21-year-old grew up in Ealing with five older brothers, all football-mad, but was never treated any differently during family kickabouts.

Now she is taking the Kelly name right to the top, emerging as one of the brightest stars in the WSL and knocking on the national team door louder than ever before.

“My brothers and their friends never made it easy for me and I think that helped make me the player I am today,” said the forward, who made her solitary England appearance in 2018.

“The physical side of my game has benefited from that but also my technical side has come from those days spent playing cage football.

“I was never treated any differently, they used to bounce me off the cage walls and that toughened me up – I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“I’d like to think I’m a bit better than all of them now and I know they are very proud of me but I have a lot of thank them for.”

The Toffees welcome Chelsea this weekend in the WSL after winning three on the spin, with victories over Brighton and Tottenham sandwiching a historic triumph against Liverpool at Anfield.

And the form of Kelly has been integral to that success, with her four goals putting her level with Arsenal striker and Ballon d’Or nominee Vivianne Miedema as the league’s top scorer.

But the talented striker hasn’t always been a blue and could well have ended up on the same team as Miedema had she not left the Gunners in 2017 in search of regular first-team opportunities.

“I worked very hard during my time at Arsenal but since I have come to Everton I have learned so much more and improved a lot more,” said Kelly.

“I learned a lot from the experienced players like Kelly Smith and Rachel Yankey but it came to a time when I needed to be pushing on and getting minutes on the pitch so moving to Everton was a great step for me.”

Despite her impressive performances this season, Kelly has only been worth a spot in the training camp in the eyes of Lionesses boss Phil Neville - although she was drafted into the full squad after the withdrawal of Jill Scott back in October.

England have won just twice in their last eight games and many have been left asking how Kelly has been overlooked.

But she insists that international omissions won’t distract her from the task at hand. 

“I just want to get my head down and play football and when the international call ups come I will be delighted,” she added.

“When you’re left out, you can’t get your head down too much and be disheartened – you just have to focus on yourself and improve your own game because I have a lot I can work on as well.

“I am playing with a lot of confidence at the moment and just enjoying my football – when I enjoy my football I play at my best and that is showing this season.”