Roman Abramovich paid a surprise visit to Chelsea Women as the team squad toured Jerusalem’s historic sites.
The Blues were in Israel for a specially arranged friendly with the national team to celebrate women’s football and support further development of the sport in the country
The Chelsea owner met the Blues’ women stars on Monday, talking at length and posing for pictures with the squad.
Chelsea remain committed to their Say No to Anti-Semitism campaign, that is heavily backed by owner Abramovich.
The Russian-born Israeli citizen was one of the driving forces behind Chelsea’s friendly against New England Revolution in May, with the owners of both clubs donating 1million US dollars (£823,000) to related charities, the Daily Mail report.
The Chelsea squad enjoyed a walking tour of ancient Jerusalem, with club owner Abramovich meeting them at the Western Wall.
Head coach Hayes admitted last term’s Women’s Champions League semi-finalists were handed a big boost by Abramovich’s visit.
‘I didn’t tell them where we were going,’ Hayes told PA. ‘So that was great to surprise them with that. And they were like giggling teenagers when we went into the room.
‘But once Millie Bright and Carly Telford went up and asked for pictures, all the girls were asking for individual shots.
‘But we spent time not just talking about this game, but the season ahead, our work over the last season and seasons before, and how proud he is of the team and what we do.
‘It’s such a boost to the players, and especially in Jerusalem, it was a wonderful experience for all of them.
‘…The fact we got to spend the time in Israel with Roman, rather than just on the training pitch, not only shows his commitment to women’s football, but it also showcases the women’s game, and the massive impact of the visit not just for the young people here and for the players too.
‘So it’s hugely significant. Going to Jerusalem meant an awful lot to a lot of people.
‘We sat around at dinner talking about how important it is understanding the history of this region, seeing the value of human life, the love of working for a football club that promotes such wonderful values and supports its women’s football team in the way we have.
‘And it was all-round such a brilliant self-reflective day, and one to have time with our owner that we all thoroughly enjoyed.’