Sunday 02 June 2019, 14:53

Chelcee Grimes: France 2019 is going to be a real breakthrough

  • Singer and footballer Chelcee Grimes discusses juggling life on the stage and pitch

  • She explains why she feels England can win France 2019

  • The Fulham player tells of an amusing encounter with Kaka

If you’re not familiar with Chelcee Grimes, she’s the person doing not one but two careers that will leave you brimming with jealousy.

While 27-year-old Liverpool native’s day-to-day grind is writing songs for the likes of Dua Lipa and Kylie Minogue, alongside preparing her debut album, on weekends you’ll likely see her in the colours of Fulham FC Women. This comes on the heels of being on the books for her beloved Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur.

The dyed-in-the-wool Reds fan is still riding high from their sixth UEFA Champions League triumph and now she is set for a month of watching the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™.

Ahead of soaking up the football festivities, the self-confessed “creative on and off the pitch” and footballing popstar spoke with on balancing her enviable careers, sharing the pitch with some of the England Lionesses as a youth player, and performing at the France 2019 draw. You must pinch yourself ever time anyone asks you what you do for a living...

Chelcee Grimes: Yeah, it’s mad! I played football for no money from the age of nine to 16 and then – maybe I got a bit lucky – I was only doing music for about a year and then I got my first deal. So I made no money from sport and then straight into music I was able to make an alright living, so I kind of favoured that for a bit, as most people would, and then I got back into football two seasons ago, just because I missed it so much. The two worlds are just colliding for me perfectly right now.

While football preceded your music career, which was your first love?

Football! That’s all I wanted to be. I joke that if I’d been a guy I’d probably have never picked an instrument up and would have been playing at Liverpool for many years. Nine years ago, when I was playing, there was just no money in the game like there is today. I’ve got a ten-year-old sister and she wants to be a footballer. Now you don’t have to say ‘there’s no money in that’ or ‘there’s not a life in that’, you can make a living from it now. It’s so exciting for the women’s game.

Seeing Alex Scott as one of the main panellists on the BBC it just shows that little girls can turn on the TV and see there’s a job for them in sports somewhere. Football is football. It’s not women’s football, it’s just a sport – why should it be determined by your sex? People are passionate about it like anything else. I think this Women’s World Cup is going to be a real breakthrough time for everyone in the sport.

How important was football to you growing up?

You’re either a Red or a Blue growing up in Liverpool – it’s in your blood – and I’m a Red through and through. I had no brothers or sisters back then, so it was either stay in and do homework or go out and play football with the boys. I quickly became better than the lads and was getting picked first for the teams, so then I got a trial at Liverpool at the age of nine and they were my first club. It was such a proud moment for my family.

How difficult is it balancing your two careers?

Yeah, it’s difficult, I’m not going to lie. I’ve probably only played about 40 per cent of the season because I’ve been travelling and I’m writing an album. You never know when you’re going to write a hit. But I’m always available for the cup games and if I’m in the country, I’ll always give 110 per cent of my time to football, but I’ve got to make a living as well! Football careers are quite short but I’ll write songs till the day I die!

And your football and music worlds collided again at the Women’s World Cup draw, too...

That was amazing. I was just waiting to perform for these legends in this really small, intimate room and I managed to get a picture with Kaka. I walked over and said, ‘You don’t know this, but you were the first boy to ever break my heart when I saw you rip Liverpool to shreds’. And he laughed but said, ‘It ended better for you!’. It was such a magical moment, having been entertained by these legends for so long, for 25 minutes I was entertaining them.

How did you react to England’s draw?

Obviously, Scotland and England in the same group is going to be tasty! I really think England can do it this year. The whole country’s behind them and I’ve seen so many of the players have amazing seasons. They’ve just come off the back of the SheBelieves Cup win, so I honestly think we can do it. I’ve spoken to a few of the girls and everyone’s super confident.

Did you get to play alongside any of the current England team, back in your days at Liverpool or Everton?

Watching the last Women’s World Cup, about 40 per cent of the team were people I’d played with at some stage of my career. Alex Greenwood and I are friends – we message each other all the time and are going to hang out when I’m in France. Toni Duggan and I follow each other on Instagram, but she was in a different age group to me at Everton. Nikita Parris too. She was a year below me, but we all know each other. It’s great to see that they’ve stuck to it and are now on the world platform, playing for their country.

Who are you favourites for the tournament? And any players you think will leave with a bolstered reputation?

Listen, I’m not saying anyone else apart from England. But you can’t rule out France, who are going to pull in some big crowds, but I’ll be cheering England all the way. Parris was player of the season and I was with Vivianne Miedema recently and she won PFA Player of the Year, too, but it’s a tournament where anything can happen.