The Story Behind Chloe Kelly's Sports Bra Moment Makes Us Love It Even More

The iconic celebration was a nod to USA player Brandi Chastain and another history-making victory.
Brandi Chastain (left) and Chloe Kelly (right).
Getty Images
Brandi Chastain (left) and Chloe Kelly (right).

It’s an image that’s made the front of multiple newspapers and we’ll remember for years to come: England’s Chloe Kelly tearing off her shirt to celebrate her history-making goal in the Euro 2022 final.

The 24-year-old scored in the 110th minute to secure the Lionesses win, bringing football home for the first time in a major tournament since the 1966 men’s World Cup.

Watching Kelly tear across the pitch in her sports bra was an iconic moment – but football fans have seen it before.

Her victory lap is understood to have been a nod to her hero, USA player Brandi Chastain, who tore off her shirt and celebrated in a black sports bra after scoring the winning penalty in the 1999 Women’s World Cup final against China.

“I see you,” Chastain, 54, tweeted Kelly last night after the epic celebration. And so did the rest of the world.

In the nineties, Chastain’s shirtless photo made it on to newspaper front pages both sides of the Atlantic, becoming the defining image of the tournament. She too was celebrating in front of a record crowd for a global women’s sporting event.

That moment has been hailed as the catalyst that made soccer a viable career for women in the states, leading to the establishment of the first professional women’s league.

Brandi Chastain of the US celebrating her winning penalty shot in the 1999 Women's World Cup final against China 10 July 1999.
ROBERTO SCHMIDT via Getty Images
Brandi Chastain of the US celebrating her winning penalty shot in the 1999 Women's World Cup final against China 10 July 1999.

There’s hope Kelly’s goal will inspire the same momentum in England, with footballers past and present calling for more football academies for young girls and greater funding for the women’s game at professional level.

And as author Lucy Ward pointed out on social media, the empowering image of a woman in a sports bra remains “hugely significant” beyond the game.

“This is a woman’s body – not for sex or show – just for the sheer joy of what she can do and the power and skill she has,” she said.

The 118,000 people who’ve liked the tweet seem to agree.

As for Kelly, on the night she was more interested in singing Sweet Caroline than answering interview questions (we can’t blame her).

But in her first live studio interview since lifting the trophy, she reflected on the big win – and her equally big celebration.

“You celebrate for what the moment is and not, ‘Am I allowed to take my shirt off?’” she told Good Morning Britain. “No, I’m taking my shirt off and going crazy, because a man footballer, they’d be doing exactly the same. So as a woman, why can’t we?”

Host Kate Garraway asked Kelly to talk through her tournament-winning goal, and the player replied: “Lauren Hemp, she went out to the corner and I said to her, ‘Make it count. Let’s make this count’ and everything after that is a blur until I took my shirt off.

“I was looking at the ref and thinking, ‘What’s she calling it, is it a free kick? Is it a goal?’ I think everything to do with VAR and things like that, you’re thinking I don’t want to celebrate too much, I want to make sure. I was still holding my shirt then, thinking, ‘Is it coming off or what?’ I don’t want to take it off if they cancel out the goal – I was ready to take this off and go crazy.”

Any player – regardless of gender – receives a yellow card for showboating if they take their shirt off.

Asked about the booking she had after the celebration, Kelly joked: “[It was] the best yellow card I’ve ever received!”