JOHANNA RYTTING KANERYD sees herself as a late bloomer after enduring three major injuries in her mid-teens and early twenties.
Since then the Chelsea midfielder, 25, whose team face Arsenal later, has emerged as one of Sweden’s most promising attacking midfielders.
The player, regarded as one of Europe’s rising stars, joined Emma Hayes ranks last August sealing a move from Swedish side BK Hacken.
The Kingsmeadow ace, who helped her national side reach last year’s Euros semi-finals said: “I had three big injuries early in my career.
“It’s why I feel like I’m a little bit of a late bloomer even though I was a young talent.
“I had two ACL (anterior cruciate) injuries. The first one was when I was 15-years-old.
“Later I injured my other knee and had some problems with my meniscus.
“I recovered from that but then a few years later (in 2018), in the same week that I signed for Rosengard, I had an ACL injury.
“In total it was three years (of playing time) that I missed (due to injuries).”
Rytting Kaneryd’s journey to football’s elite level began during her childhood growing up in Kolsva, a small village in Sweden.
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She took up football as soon as she “could walk” with her earliest years spent playing alongside her twin brother Marcus in a mixed boys and girls’ team.
The WSL ace added: “It was a special situation against other teams especially before the games.
“When they (our opponents) looked at our team and saw there were girls in it, they were almost laughing and saying ‘what was this?’
“After the games they were not laughing anymore.
“It was nice to look at them after a game (we’d won) and be like ‘okay, you’re not that cocky anymore’.
Rytting Kaneryd’s Chelsea switch has seen her become one of several elite players from Sweden to join the league leaders in recent years.
Compatriots who have contributed to Chelsea’s silverware success under Hayes include Magda Eriksson, goalkeeper Zecira Musovic and former Blues defender and shot stopper Jonna Andersson and Hedvig Lindahl.
Since her July 2017 move from Linkoping, Blues captain Eriksson has skippered the team to three consecutive WSL titles from 2020.
The centre-back was also part of the squad that won a league crown in 2018.
Rytting Kaneryd added: “I heard good things about the club from the Swedish players that have been here.
“It was an easy decision (to move) after I spoke with Zecira, Magda and the girls who have been here before.
“Our mentality is the same and we want to achieve a lot.
“I also spoke to Emma just before signing as well and got a really good feeling.
“As a manager Emma has something extra about herself, she is special in many ways.
“I have learned a lot from being coached by her. Our meetings are never boring.”
Rytting Kaneryd’s career took off when she chose to move away from home at 15 with the player later joining Swedish club Tyreso FF.
That decision would see her join the club’s senior side in 2014.
At the time their star-studded side included Brazil and USA icons Marta and Christen Press and Sweden midfield heroine Caroline Seger.
Rytting Kaneryd was part of a Tyreso squad that reached the Champions League final in 2014.
The Sweden ace was an unused substitute during the match which her team lost 4-3 to German giants Wolfsburg.
Her senior career includes a two-year spell with Swedish giants Rosengard from 2018 to 2020
Back then the club were managed by Jonas Eidevall before his Gunners head coach appointment.
And she could be in line the to play against her former boss with Arsenal aiming to close the three-point gap between themselves and the WSL leaders
The midfielder added: “It’s one of those matches you really love to play in.
“Hopefully it’s going to be a good game and a big challenge.”