Brighton’s Kayleigh Green on the characters who have helped shape her career

In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, Kayleigh Green talks through the characters who have shaped her football career, including Chelsea forward Pernille Harder, former Wales boss Jayne Ludlow, Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo, and more…

Ahead of Brighton’s trip to Aston Villa in the WSL – which is live on Sky Sports on Saturday (kick-off 11.30am) – Green talks about the key figures who have influenced her career so far, her toughest opponent and the player she would most like to play with.

The Wales international also reveals who has been her biggest inspiration in and out of the game before revealing the player she would most like to play alongside as we take a look at her career in characters…

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Brighton and Hove Albion Women

Saturday 5th March 11:00am Kick off 11:30am

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The best player you’ve played with…

Kayleigh Green: “It’s definitely Jessica Fishlock. She’s an incredible, incredible player.

“For Wales, she plays as the number 10 and I am the number nine so we play very closely together and even watching her when she played in the WSL for Reading, she could find a pass from anywhere. She’s so creative and I’m not being biased because she’s Welsh. She is genuinely one of the best players and what she can do is phenomenal.”

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Highlights of the Women’s Super League match between Brighton and Reading

Your toughest opponent…

KG: “I will have to go with Pernille Harder. What she does on a pitch is unbelievable. Her movement off the ball is so good. She finds pockets of space and when she accelerates, no one can catch her. Her intelligence, her reading of the game as a footballer, it is second to none.

“If any young player can look up to anyone in the game, it would probably be Harder because of what she does off the ball as well as what she does on it. She’s incredible.”

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Green: Brighton need to show more consistency

Striker Kayleigh Green on Brighton ending their 11-game winless run:

“It’s always important to get a win, especially in this league. It’s getting tougher and tougher in the WSL every single season. For me and the girls, it was all about the performance against Reading. If we can continue to go out and put in performances like the one against Reading the winning streak and the wins will come.

“We go out and we put in performances against the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal, and if I look at the Arsenal game, I think we should have won that. But we have to do it more consistently. If you can perform consistently in this league each week, like we did at the start of the season, that will push us further up the table.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t quite take the three points against Arsenal, but every game we look at it and we grow, and that’s also exactly what we did after the Reading game too. We don’t just think we can do it all now after that win, we have to build on it and kick on.”

If you could play alongside one player…

KG: “I’m going to go with this player only because I think throughout his journey of playing at Manchester United, i definitely looked at him as a role model. It has to be Cristiano Ronaldo.

“The age he is at the moment and the fact he is still playing after all he has achieved in the game, personally I feel I could learn a lot from him.

“I think it would be any childhood dream as well as any adult’s dream to be honest to play alongside someone with so much talent”

Image: Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates with Bruno Fernandes

The best manager you’ve worked under…

KG: “Two managers come to mind. I would say Jayne Ludlow because if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be a centre forward right now. When I first met Jayne I was a centre-back. I was a centre-back for many, many years and it wasn’t until she saw something in me, whether it was my spark or my energy, and yes, she gave me that opportunity and she helped me develop as an attacking player.

“So, I’d have to say Jayne for that, but if I am looking for someone who helps my strengths and pushes and challenges me, I’d have to say it is my current Wales boss Gemma Grainger. I feel she understands me as a player and she knows how to get the best out of me.

“So, it’s Jayne in terms of where she’s got me, but Gemma in terms of understanding my strengths and feeding those strengths.”

Green eager to build on Reading goals

Kayleigh Green was back among the goals against Reading and she’s eager to take the confidence gained from those strikes into Brighton’s clash with Aston Villa on Saturday.

Green told Sky Sports: “As a centre forward and an attacking player, if you get some goals under your belt, it gives you the confidence to go forward in every game and when that opportunity comes you’ve got that bit more confidence to put another goal away.

“Hopefully I can build on that. I want to take that confidence from the Reading game and when that chance comes against Aston Villa, hopefully I can put it away and get another goal.”

Who have you learnt the most from?

KG: “Again, I’m going to have to have two people. I’m going to say my mum and dad.

“My dad has always been my rock within football. He’s helped me a lot with challenges, how to overcome those challenges, never giving up. and pushing onto what I want to achieve. That’s the person who I am right now.

“I would also say my mum because she has always been there through every single thing in my life. Times were tough with my mum growing up. We came from a council estate and from no money. The only thing she could show us was love so I have to say my mum from the personality side of things.”

Image: Green celebrates scoring for Brighton & Hove Albion Women vs Reading

Your inspiration away from football…

KG: ” To be honest, it was my dad. He has massively inspired me in every decision I have made. I don’t want to break down and cry, but he has pushed me and he has put his arm around my should and supported me through every single decision.

“In life, I haven’t made the best decisions. Some were great, some were bad, but he’s always been there to support me.

“I’m a family type of girl. I could of looked up to someone in football my whole life. I could have started to be like them or play like them, but coming back to reality and the world we live in today I would say my parents have been my biggest influence.

“The background that we’ve come from, it wasn’t easy from my mum and dad, but they gave us the best they could. They inspired me the to be the best that I could be and I think my career wouldn’t be where it is if it wasn’t for them.”

‘We want a top-half finish’

Brighton striker Kayleigh Green:

“As a footballer or a manager, if you don’t look up the table then I don’t know what you are doing in this type of work. We want to be able to go out there and we want to be able to compete against the best teams.

“We want to end the season in the top half of the league, and for us to do that we have to have that consistency in performance. This week, it’s not going to be easy. If you look at Aston Villa’s team, they have got some great players and some experienced players, who have played in this league long enough. So, it is going to be tough

“We can take the positives from the Reading game and look at how well we did, but just because we played well in that game, it doesn’t mean we are going to turn up at Aston Villa and play the same. It’s going to be tough. Every game is different, and every opposition is different. We have to focus on every game.”

And in football…

KG: “To be honest, there wasn’t. it was always my dad.

“I can sit here and make up a name from within football, but the truth is my inspiration in this sport was my dad.

“He pushed me to be the best I could be.”

Image: Green is a regular for Wales

Your best friend in football…

KG:” I’m going to upset some people now, aren’t I?

“I would say Tasha Harding is one of my best friends, definitely. I always lean on her within football about anything.

“Like in any team sport, you aren’t going to get on with everyone in the team, but the on thing you agree on is once you cross that line, you do it for everybody.

“So yes, you are going to have some best friends. Megan Connolly at Brighton, from the moment she walked through the door we’ve always been good friend and if I ever needed to lean on anyone at Brighton, it’s definitely be her.

“She’s sensible, she can calm me down and she can rationalise with me. But in the team environment, it’s important you understand you aren’t going to be friend with everyone, but once you are on that pitch you are all together.”

Brighton's show of solidarity with Ukraine

At the weekend, Brighton will wear their yellow and blue kit for the game against Aston Villa as a show of solidarity with Ukraine, and Green has backed the statement the club is making.

She told Sky Sports: “As a club, what we are doing, it makes a statement.

“If you watch the Premier league, other leagues and even worldwide there are a lot of people making statements supporting Ukraine, and I think it is important as a nation that we do that.

“As a club, I think it is fantastic that we are doing it.”

Funniest player you’ve played with…

KG: “There are quite a few. Felicity Gibbons is definitely one. She is always laughing and joking.

“Aileen Wheelan is the joker of the pack, even in training. She’s always pranking people, scaring people and trying other people’s clothes on. She really gets everyone going, just like Fliss.

“They have big personalities, but within our team I could roll off a number of different names. We have big personalities within our squad, and everyone brings something different.”

Image: Watch Aston Villa Women vs Brighton Women live on Sky Sports Premier League from 11am on Saturday; kick-off 11.30am

Three celebrity guests you’d invite to a dinner party…

KG: “I’d definitely have to invite a comedian. I would also say I would need to have someone there who likes sport.

“This is a hard question. I feel under pressure!

“Right, I’m bringing Rita Ora because I’m a massive fan of her music. It would have to be an old school comedian in Lee Evans.

“The from the world of sport… no, I’m bringing Nessa from Gavin and Stacey. That’d be an entertaining dinner party!”

Watch Aston Villa Women vs Brighton Women live on Sky Sports Premier League from 11am on Saturday; kick-off 11.30am.

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