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Former youth standout Billy Clifford leaves Chelsea in search of regular first team football

Tom Shaw

I've been playing the Championship/Football Manager series of computer games since the 97/98 version, and I'm fairly certain that not once in all those years did I manage to get the "mutual contract termination" option to work.  I was beginning to wonder if it was just a big inside joke on the part of Sports Interactive.  But, these things do happen in real life, especially when it comes to young players who are looking for regular first team football.

Billy Clifford (no relation to similarly ex-Chelsea Conor Clifford) had been one of the longest serving members of the Chelsea family, having joined the club as an under-8 player 13 years ago.  Considering that we don't really remember anything from before about age 4, that's almost 75% of his conscious lifetime spent living, training, working, learning at Chelsea.  And now he's moving out for good.

Clifford, part of the McEachran-Lalkovic generation, started out as a wingback before converting to attacking midfielder, from where he orchestrated the Chelsea youth attack.  Best known for his creative passing and a few silky tricks, he amassed 100 appearances at the U18 and U21 levels combined.  While he didn't make a single official first-team appearance, he did join our preseason tour in 2011-12.  He split last season between two failed loan spells at Yeovil Town and Royal Antwerp in Belgium, though he did manage to pick up an U21 Premier League winner's medal with us as well.

Best of luck to him in the future.

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