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Bridcutt: Chelsea youth system ain't half bad

Liam Bridcutt was released by Chelsea on June 7. No surprise, really. After all, Bridcutt, 21, is just one of many youth products who have failed to establish themselves at the London club.

Bridcutt joined Chelsea in 2004. His senior career at the club began three years later. The midfielder never made a first team appearance for Chelsea, but enjoyed loans spells at Yeovil, Watford and Stockport. He signed a five-month contract on 28 August with League One side Brighton & Hove Albion, managed by Chelsea legend Gus Poyet.

Another failed prospect? Not necessarily. Many of us have been known to lean to the conclusion that the Chelsea youth system is fundamentally flawed. Of course, John Terry being the last youth product to make a true first-team impact does little to diminish that viewpoint. But Bridcutt is holding no grudge. In fact, he seems to allude to the system being very much an effective one. Below, the young man offers some candid insight into his time at Chelsea.


"I was at Crystal Palace for a few weeks and was messed around a bit there, because they were in administration. It was a similar story at Wycombe. They had spent the budget and couldn’t really offer me anything.“I have still been training for three weeks back at Chelsea. They were happy to have me back to keep fit. They really helped me a lot, allowed me to go in and train so that when I got an opportunity I am fit and ready to go. Gus (Poyet) would probably not have looked at me otherwise, because he needs players that can come in straight away and do a job.

"Chelsea were really good to me throughout my time there, from the age of eight. They have helped me all the way, even though they let me go in the summer. They are really nice and genuine people there who want to help so I am grateful to them.

"At any big club these days it’s always hard for youngsters breaking through. I think it’s a lot harder for the English lads now because the clubs are looking abroad to buy people. We get overlooked a little bit but at Chelsea they have got some English players coming through. Even if they don’t develop them for the first team they develop them to get out and do a job elsewhere.

“I’ve been in and around the first team, training with them quite a bit, and in the reserves some of the big names that don’t play are often involved. That is a massive confidence boost and they were always there to help you and encourage you to push on.

"The captain, John Terry, is a massive influence on the young players. He is a great leader and if you ever needed someone to talk to he was always there. As a youngster I was a Chelsea fan. My dad was and still is. It is still a team I really love. I was disappointed to leave but I need to get out and progress my career. It’s a big step coming here. Hopefully I can do well and impress a few people."

Conclusion: Far from the view you see surfacing in the papes on a regular basis. It's great to hear that the club is so open to aiding those who come through the club, even if their status will never be that of a superstar. It's this kind of mindset that will almost certainly see the club produce that next John Terry - a prospect that, with the emergence of this latest youth crop, does not appear too far away.

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