Ruben Sammut may be one of the less heralded Chelsea prospects at the moment, but the 18-year-old midfielder has enjoyed a couple very good seasons for the Chelsea youth teams and already has two FA Youth Cups and one UEFA Youth League triumph under his belt. The Kent-born kid joined Chelsea at the under-8 level but has declared allegiance to Scotland, where he's currently part of the U19 squad. His game generally exhibits a maturity beyond his tender age and that can also be seen in this wonderful blog post he wrote on dealing with setbacks and the stresses of football.
In an interview with the Daily Record after Scotland U19 failed to qualify for the U19 European Championships this summer, Sammut talked a bit about his season so far, about opportunities at Chelsea, and, of course, Jose Mourinho.
"The season's going well for me at Chelsea. We're in the semi-finals of two tournaments - the FA Youth Cup and the Under-19 Champions League - which I've been a part of. We're also doing well in the league. We've won the south section and are in the play-offs. Now, we're battling it out with the top teams from north and south. Whoever wins gets the national league. It's three big competitions and I want to win all three. I've played regularly in the league and FA Youth Cup but I'm looking for more opportunities in the Under-19 Champions League."
No one's made more starts for Chelsea in the U18 Premier League than Sammut, who's also got to captain the side regularly. He has a handful of appearances at U19 and U21 levels, and it also sounds like he's getting pulled up to first-team training on a semi-regular basis now that Hiddink is in charge.
"Since Guus Hiddink has come in, he's put on a lot more training sessions where we've been able to join in. So I've trained a few more times with the first-team squad than I did under the previous manager. That keeps you motivated. Any time you can impress in training, you just never know what might happen. You might get an opportunity."
"With the team not doing so well in the Premier League and out of the cup competitions, there is nothing to play for. Opportunities for young players should be coming pretty quickly."
While not all of Hiddink's decisions, tactics, or substitutions have been met with universal approval, he has at times placed great trust into some of the younger players on the squad. Kenedy, Traoré, and Loftus-Cheek are the three most visible to us, but in training, apparently plenty of others are participating as well. Sammut's also not the first to talk about the mood change at Cobham, with Jose's departure lifting a proverbial dark cloud that was hanging over the whole place.
"It's really good training with the first-team players. Since Guus Hiddink arrived, there's been a real buzz around the place. A lot of the players felt low on confidence while Mourinho was here but it's totally different in the camp now. Everyone is upbeat again."
"Training has been enjoyable again. The big players like John Terry, Diego Costa and Eden Hazard are really driving the sessions now. It's been very good. The intensity is unreal. At the start of every session it's boxes, and the youngest player goes in the middle. Your head is spinning for about 30 passes."
"John Terry has been the most helpful to me. He's really good with all the young lads and as soon as you go over there he's talking to you all the time. They all shake your hand and make you feel welcome. But John is particularly good. It'll be the end of an era when he leaves Chelsea. I'm not sure what's going on with his contract but it would be great if he stayed."
-Ruben Sammut; source: Daily Record
Interesting little tidbit about the supposedly jaded Eden Hazard in there, and it's always good to hear how John Terry helps all the youth prospects. It will indeed be the end of an era when he leaves, but perhaps a new John Terry will emerge sooner rather than later from the academy. Maybe it'll be Sammut himself!