TORONTO, Canada—Canadian women’s national team star Jessie Fleming hopes to follow in the footsteps of international teammate Kadeisha Buchanan by becoming just the second Canadian to win the UEFA Women’s Champions League title when her Chelsea FC takes on FC Barcelona Sunday afternoon.
Buchanan, of course, was the first to win the coveted European Championship as she rallied off an incredible four-straight(!) titles with Olympique Lyonnais before her team was eliminated in the quarter-finals this season.
As a kid, Jessie Fleming dreamed about winning World Cups & Olympic medals, like her female soccer-playing heroes.— Laura Armstrong (@lauraarmy) May 15, 2021
A Champions League title wasn’t on her mind.
Tomorrow, she’ll vie for top UWCL honours — and hopefully inspire the next generation, too. https://t.co/PSBh1IdO4I
While Buchanan was the first and only woman to accomplish the feat thus far, there were more women from Canada in the mix this season than ever before—a testament to the direction the game is heading in this country. A record six Canadians competed in the quarter-finals—Fleming, Buchanan, Ashley Lawrence, Jordyn Huitema, Janine Beckie and Stephanie Labbé—however, the Cheslea midfielder is the only one left standing heading into Sunday’s final.
“It’s another positive for Canadian female footballers, just even having Canadians represented in the Champions League and people able to watch that … Ten years ago that wasn’t happening, so even that in itself is just really cool,” Fleming told The Toronto Star’s Laura Armstrong this past week.
After joined the Blues last summer following a a successful collegiate career at UCLA, the 23-year-old central midfielder appeared in 14 matches in her first full season in England. She’s been a part of a winning culture in her rookie season, with Chelsea already clinching the FA Women’s Super League title as well as a league cup, and is still in the mix to lift the FA Cup.
That experience in an elite environment has translated over to her game on the international stage for Canada as she was arguably the best player on the pitch when the Reds took on Wales and England in a pair of recent friendlies in April.
What a beauty from Jessie Fleming https://t.co/tWqZaTTFQL— Waking the Red (@WakingtheRed) April 9, 2021
While Fleming may not start for Chelsea on Sunday—she has just three starts to her name this season—there’s a chance that she does find her way into this one off the bench.
Regardless, win or lose, if she makes an appearance or if she doesn’t, the future is bright for the CanWNT midfielder and experiences like Sunday will only help with her development as she continues to rapidly climb the ladder into stardom on the world stage.