Ruben Loftus-Cheek is a man on a mission: a mission to play more, to score more, to learn more, to listen more, to be in top shape more, to develop more. Buoyed by Thursday’s hat-trick, he could be forgiven for getting carried away a bit more, too, but he’s keeping his feet firmly planted on the ground and concentrating on simply getting the basics right.
As a professional footballer, there really isn’t too much he needs to be concerned about. He simply needs to work hard, train hard, and listen hard to what the coaches are telling him. The simpler he keeps things, the better, especially off the pitch.
In his post-match interviews following Thursday’s near-perfect 10 performance, Loftus-Cheek has taken up this theme of getting the basics right — of eating right, sleeping right, training right, and of course playing right when the opportunity comes. He knows he has to work on some aspects of his game, but he’s more than willing to do so and do so right, and impress Sarri.
“[Sarri] is asking me to improve defensively and positionally. We are working on it every day in training and he is very demanding with the team. He is so demanding on shape, but also wants you to play freely as well, which is why we can play such free flowing football.
”For a manager who has been in the game for a long time, it would be daft for me not to take on what he is telling me. He is a top manager. For me to learn from him is great for my development. I will keep on doing that. I will keep on listening and learning whenever I’m on the pitch or in training.
“I have never doubted my ability. It’s just hard sometimes to perform at your best when you are not playing regularly. So it is important to train well, keep your good habits - eat well and sleep well - so that when games like this come along you can be as close to your best physical shape as possible.
“I will keep trying to do that and it’s all I can do right now. There is still a long way to go. I want to keep being ambitious, keep improving and see how far I can go.”
Playing time remains a work in progress as well, but performances like Thursday’s effort against BATE probably won’t hurt that cause (with or without the goals themselves). Loftus-Cheek was a force of nature on the ball, and the Champions of Belarus had no idea how to handle his combination of skill, vision, power, and pace. And that’s the ultimate dream, that RLC is able to put those things together into a tremendous Chelsea career.
“I think my debut was still more special, just because you dream of that as a kid. The first time I stepped on the pitch for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge was in the Champions League and that was a special night. But this is close.”
“I think [my last hat-trick] was in the Under-13s. It might have been against Charlton. I remember scoring a hat-trick against them when I was young. But this was different. A European night under the lights, it is hard to describe the feeling. It’s a dream.”
-Ruben Loftus-Cheek; source: Goal
Thursday night may have been special. But it will be even more special if it leads to the fulfillment of a long-standing dream, that of the next, long-awaited local kid turned Academy star turned homegrown hero.