A native of Tbilisi, Georgia, Guram Kashia has been living in the Netherlands since 2010. Earlier that same year, another native of Tbilisi, a man by the name of Merab Jordania, alongside his friend Roman Abramovich, saw an opportunity and acquired an Arnhem-based football club called SVB Vitesse. And thus, history was made and Roman’s Empire was set to be fortified.
Kashia arrived that summer to find Chelsea youngsters Nemanja Matić and Slobodan Rajković already kicking the ball about at the Papendal training center. They were soon joined by Matej Delac, who only recently ended his record-setting stint in the Chelsea Loan Army. Meanwhile, Kashia himself worked his way up the ranks, being named Vitesse captain in 2013, a position he’s held ever since through almost 300 appearances and 8 seasons among the Pride of the Gelderland. He’s certifiably a Vitesse legend.
During that time, he’s seen more than his fair share of fresh faces from Cobham arrive, play, and leave. Some stayed a while, some barely had time to say hello. Some had great success, some struggled mightily. One even led them to an historic success in the Dutch Cup. But none had been as impressive as 19-year-old Mason Mount.
“Man, this boy is brilliant. At the beginning of the season I saw him as a little boy with us at the training. I liked him and saw that he was a smart player, but thought he was too young. I never thought he would go that forward.”
“I have seen very good talents, but Mason is the best. Traoré for example was great, but with him it went step by step in a year and a half. What this boy does for each other in one season... As if he suddenly improved fifty percent.”
-Guram Kashia; Source: De Telegraaf via Google Translate
Vitesse have one more game left this season, the away leg of the playoff final for Europa League qualification againt Utrecht. Vitesse hold a slim 3-2 lead from the first leg, thanks in part to Mount’s fifth goal in three playoff games, bringing him to 14 on the season (with 10 assists) as well as well deserved Player of the Season honors (second Chelsea loanee to accomplish that after Rajković). Unfortunately, Mount’s season is already over as an 82nd-minute yellow card ruled him out of Saturday’s second leg. It’s certainly not how he imagined the season ending.
“It is a shame that I am suspended, my parents would come from England for the return [leg], maybe they will still come, but then I have to watch the game together with them from the tribune, so I did not want to end the season [this way].”
That disappointment aside — especially if Vitesse blow their chance — this has been a tremendous season for the former FA Youth Cup (twice!) and UEFA Youth League champion, and it leaves him with plenty of important decisions to make. A plethora of choices should be available to him after turning so many heads, though sometimes that can be a problem, too. As ever, the right choice may be elusive.
“After the season I go to Chelsea and I hear what their plans are. For me everything is still open: another year of Vitesse, returning to Chelsea to go for my chance or being loaned to another club. Ultimately, it is my goal to play for Chelsea’s first team. That has been the case since I came to Chelsea as a 6-year-old.”
Having passed the Eredivisie challenge, Mount needs a new, tougher challenge. Vitesse qualifying for the Europa League might provide that, or he might look somewhere else. Chelsea may be a step too far just yet; but then again, he’s yet to find an obstacle he couldn’t conquer.
“I learned so much. Also on the physical level and how I can use my body better. I am very happy with my thirteen goals and nine assists. Great that I have been able to make my entrance in professional football. This has been a perfect step for me.”
“For me the European duels with Lazio, Roma and Nice have been the most special experiences of this beautiful season. In order to keep developing myself, I have to keep playing at the highest level as much as possible and the Europa League is that level.”
-Mason Mount; Source: De Telegraaf via Google Translate
Good luck to Chelsea B in Saturday’s final. And good luck to young Mason in finding the next perfect step.