Danish forward Pernille Harder and Swedish defender Magdalena Eriksson will be two of the key figures for Chelsea when they take on Barcelona in the Champions League final on Sunday night (21:00 CET).
Not only are they important players for their club, but the Scandanavian duo have been together since 2014 and have become known for their LGBTQ+ advocacy as well.
The couple have played together at Linkopings in Sweden for four years before Harder left for Wolfsburg in 2016 and Eriksson joined Chelsea a year later.
In 2020 the pair were reunited when Chelsea paid a world-record 350,000 euros to sign Harder from Wolfsburg.
“It wasn’t a difficult descision, I felt like it was time to try something new,” Harder told the BBC about the move.
“Magda is playing here, which of course was an advantage, but that wasn’t what made me come here.
“Being in the same country and playing in the same team makes me happy, not just because she is my partner but because she is a great player and leader.”
The two players have never hidden their relationship, but it gained much publicity at the World Cup in 2019 when they shared a kiss after a Sweden match when Harder had been watching Eriksson help her team beat Canada.
“I didn’t know there was a photographer there, so I didn’t even know about the photo,” Harder told FIFA.com.
“It was just a quick kiss after a match, like we’d done other times after other matches.
“This time there was a camara and one thing led to another, the photo appeared on social media and there were loads of comments, the majority very positive.”
The experience made the couple realise they could use their platform and status positively and have embraced their roles as ambassafors and icons of the LGBTQ+ community.
“It made us realise that we are role models, not just in football but in other ways,” said Harder.
“It is something we have accepted because we know we are lucky to feel safe and relaxed being in a relationship which is public knowledge.
“If we can help other people to be themselves, we want to do so.”
On and off the field, Harder and Eriksson know that a team is stronger than an individual and one of their charitable actions has been to join the Common Goal project, where footballers donate 1% of their wages to social causes.
Between them, the pair have 192 international caps and 23 titles, most recently with Chelsea, with whom they won the FA Women’s Super League and League Cup this season.
On Sunday night, the treble is on the line and so is the chance to work together to add a new medal to their collections, with neither having won the Champions League before, although Harder has been a runner-up twice with Wolfsburg.