Upon signing her new contract, Lia Walti is not afraid to look back and reflect on the journey she has taken with the club since arriving in 2018.
After joining from Turbine Potsdam, our Swiss midfielder helped us to Women's Super League glory in her debut season, when our Gunners commanded a modest yet devoted following at Meadow Park.
Now, having just played a sold-out Emirates Stadium in a Champions League semi-final, those early seasons feel distant but no less important. Walti is “incredibly proud” of the progress, crediting the club legends who came before and forged the way.
“I think you should never forget where you come from - as an individual but also as a football club. The credit we now get from the fans is only because all the players from years before put in all the work and fight every day.
“People like Kelly Smith and Rachel Yankey set the standards here and pushed for improvements and now that we’re here, we get to play in front of full stadiums and get the support that they deserved as well.
“It’s really nice that we can have both experiences like 10 years ago when we didn’t really have any fans coming to our games and now we can play in front of 60,000 people. I just try to enjoy every single moment, suck it in and keep pushing that we can repeat it.”
In a season that saw us lift our first piece of silverware in four years and come agonisingly close to a Champions League final, Walti also feels something positive building within the club itself to set us up for the future.
“It’s not only been the results. I think we’ve competed on the highest level against the best teams in Europe, which obviously is a big sign that we’re going in the right direction.
“But also, off the field, you just feel the support way more than ever from the club. We feel like one unit - we don’t feel separate from the men’s side of the club. We all come together now and we support each other and you can just feel that everybody is behind us.
“That’s maybe been something that was a bit difficult in women’s football in the past and that’s why it’s even nicer now.”
For Walti, the biggest motivators for committing her future to the club were the friends she plays alongside week-in, week-out.
“It does feel like a family, especially this season when we’ve had so many ups and downs with injured players or personal reasons.
“That makes a team even closer,” Walti continued. “We stick together in every single moment, we don’t complain, we accept the situation how it is and we try to make the best out of every situation.
“I think that’s why we were quite successful this season, and that’s also why I believe that there’s so much more to reach with this season.”
Walti is looking ahead to the upcoming seasons with The Arsenal with hope and excitement - and perhaps eyeing a trophy or two as well.
“I’m just so excited to stay here and share more moments like this season with the fans. I’m very thankful for the support that they show not only me but the whole team every single day and every single game. I’m looking forward to hopefully many more trophies to win.”
To hear more from Lia, click play on the video above.
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