Chelcee Grimes’ smile can be heard over the phone as she discusses her journey in football.
This is no wonder, because she fulfilled a dream of always a few hours earlier – or at least a variation of it.
Growing up kicking the ball on the streets of Liverpool, Grimes always dreamed of running at Anfield donning the famous red stripe.
Now 29, she has made a name for herself as a Grammy-nominated songwriter with a hugely successful musical career.
But getting the chance to put on her own show for Liverpool Football Club is a welcome way to live out some searing ambition – although not exactly as she envisioned it.
Instagram / ChelceeGrimes)
“It was incredible,” she said a few hours after filming with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Curtis Jones.
“When I started taking television a bit more seriously my manager asked me about my dream, my ideal job and I said if I could do a show around Liverpool it would be my dream.
“We just shot the first show, and I also have a show with the girls team that we did a couple of episodes.
“I’m integrated into the club now, it’s like a wild 360, and I feel so happy by the minute.
“The music is fine, the television is fine and now I have kind of achieved the goal of the nine year old boy who has always wanted to play for Liverpool.
“It’s like I have the best of both worlds now.”
Having written huge hits for Dua Lipa, Little Mix, Kesha and Olly Murs, Grimes has had a major impact in the music world in recent years.
But it was football that provided her first childhood dreams as she played for Liverpool academy alongside a host of current England stars.
Charlotte Tattersall / Getty Images)
She explains: “The first memories for me in football are that I grew up without siblings, and football was what we played on the streets, because there were only boys.
“It was a lot of play and then pretty quickly I got good and would be one of the first when they were picking teams.
“My grandfather saw Ian Rush school football in the newspaper, so I went to that football camp one summer. I didn’t even know who he was, but I think my grandpa just wanted to meet him!
“I was the only girl who showed up, but I ended up getting an award for the best player and it turns out the Liverpool Ladies trained there as well.
“I was spotted from there, gave it a try the following week, but didn’t even own a pair of soccer shoes – I got in my sneakers!
“I ended up signing for Liverpool when I was nine, and it all happened quickly enough to be fair. It wasn’t something I thought I took too seriously until I signed. for Liverpool, then everything changed and I just wanted to be a footballer.
“I started for Liverpool and I also played for Everton for a season, and I was now playing with about half the girls in the England squad. Alex Greenwood, Nikita Parris, Fern Whelan, those were all people I was playing with at the time.
When she hit her teens, it was music that Grimes found to be the only thing that could give her a buzz similar to being on a soccer field.
At a time when opportunities were scarce in women’s football and the opportunities for earnings as a musician were far more plentiful, she made the difficult choice to focus her efforts away from the sport.
She remembers: “When I was 16 or 17 when you got into the first team and there was still no money in women’s football, that was 10 or more years ago. .
Liverpool FC / Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
“I had to make a small decision at the time. When I was choosing my options in school, I managed to pick up music, to be honest just because I thought it would be a piece of cake!
“But I learned the guitar and the piano pretty quickly and the music teacher was like, ‘go write a song on the weekends.’
“It would give me the closest feeling I have ever had to scoring a goal, the rush I would have by doing something I was good at. When I wrote good lyrics or offered good string progression, I had the same feeling.
“I was watching everyone in the first team, they had other jobs, so I just decided to take music a bit more seriously.
“I had played football from nine to 16 without making any money, then I started making music and from 16 to 18 I made a lot of money signing a big contract to recording with Sony.
“I just thought, ‘this is great, I don’t have to be beaten, kick, nothing and I get paid! “
A few years after giving up soccer, however, she felt something was missing and found a catalyst to rekindle her first passion.
“I missed football a lot,” she admits. “I watched the 2015 World Cup, and I remember sitting on the couch, I had just been abandoned by my record company and I was writing songs for other people.
“I was just thinking, you know what, I’m going to get back into football. I hadn’t played for five or six years at this point, I was around 22, but I just went online and looked for a few teams in London.
“West Ham, Wimbledon, Fulham and Tottenham – I went to give each of them a try and they all offered me a contract so technically I still had it but my fitness had weakened a bit.
Alex Livesey / Getty Images)
“I ended up signing for Tottenham for one season, loved it, they ended up getting promoted to the Super League the next year and that’s when the music started to kick in for me again. and that the television started to start.
“If I missed a practice there, I would be on the bench or with the reserve and, again, I kind of had to make a choice of where I saw my career.
“I ended up turning to entertainment, dropping out of a league with Fulham that I loved, it’s a great club and I’ve done really well.
“Again it just gave me the buzz but then the lockdown happened I ended up going back to Liverpool. I had a try at Liverpool but I was like ‘I really can’t devote all my time to football’ so I ended up losing a few leagues.
“I was at Tranmere Rovers last year, now I’m at Merseyrail which is a big club and I love my football again.
“We play in level four, we just got sponsored by Nike, BT and Pro: Direct and the manager allows me to do without a few missed training sessions because every time I’m on TV or I can help with the sponsors, I bring that to the team.
“We have a lot to do because the team, everyone involved, are totally respectful of what I do outside of football. I truly appreciate it.
This weekend, Grimes was on the scoresheet for Merseyrail again, and those who follow her updates on Instagram will see that she has been in prolific form.
When she heads to daytime work during the week, it’s hard to shy away from questions about her exploits in the field.
In football, it’s a case of role reversal as his teammates ask for updates on his latest studio projects with some of the biggest names in music.
“You might think they are separate worlds, but I’ll tell you now, they really aren’t!” Grimes reveals.
“Anytime I’m in the studio with an artist, all he wants to know is, ‘How did you do on the weekend?’ Or “did you watch the game on the weekend”?
“Then when I get back to football everyone will want to know, ‘Who did you write for? “Or” who were you recording with? “
“I feel like I spend most of my time talking about what I don’t do! “
Mike Marsland / WireImage)
These two worlds officially collide once a year with the annual Soccer Aid game, which Grimes has been fortunate enough to participate in for the past two years.
“It’s just a day in the calendar for every celebrity,” she says. “They’re all trying to find out when Soccer Aid will be.
“You live like a professional international footballer all week. You go downstairs for breakfast and it’s like, where do you want to sit?
“The table by Paul Scholes, Harry Redknapp, Chunkz and Aitch – take your pick!” It’s just amazing and very humbling too because we’re all here for the same reason: to raise as much money as possible.
“On a personal level too, every rapper or musician wants to be a footballer and every footballer wants to be a musician, so the two worlds collide perfectly. “
While she regularly rubs shoulders with superstars in the music studio, she struggles not to stand out when surrounded by the soccer icons she wanted to emulate as a child.
“It was crazy,” she adds. “Roberto Carlos, I remember being a kid in the street and crossing the ball with my left foot, shouting ‘ROBERTO CARLOS’. Then I play against him at Old Trafford, it’s crazy.
Instagram / ChelceeGrimes)
“Makelele was there, Essien, Patrice Evra – you’re just in awe of them. But Robbie Keane looked after me a lot – he’s Irish, I’m Scouse, we’re kind of going hand in hand.
Soccer Aid also awarded Grimes – and Merseyrail – a top fan.
“Darren Fletcher has also become a great friend of mine,” she says. “My stepfather is a Man Utd fan and he managed to get us tickets to the game when Ronaldo returned.
“He also came and surprised me and came down to watch the Merseyrail play in Manchester.
“Having a few great footballers coming over to watch your level four team is not the norm – it also got me some points with the girls! It’s incredible. “
Now firmly established in the music industry, Grimes is making up for lost time in the world of football.
The sympathetic Liverpudlian has found the best of both worlds and has some exciting times ahead of him.