Last July Chelsea acquired 16-year-old Billy Gilmour from Glasgow Rangers for a measly half-a-million pounds. Measly, because even then Gilmour was one of Rangers’ most promising youth players, perhaps the most promising. Since then the midfielder has made 27 appearances for Chelsea’s U18 team in all competitions, scoring eight goals to go with three assists in eighteen-hundred minutes. But under-18s toil in relative obscurity, even Chelsea’s quadruple-winners.
Slightly less obscure is the toil of youth at international level, especially at the famed annual Toulon Tournament in Southern France. Gilmour was selected for Scotland’s U21 outfit, playing with and against guys who are up to five years his senior. It’s a tournament where many a Chelsea youth has excelled in recent years. Will young Billy already join the likes of Lewis Baker, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Nathaniel Chalobah, John Swift, and Lucas Piazon?
After sitting out Scotland’s first group game, a 1-1 draw against Togo, Gilmour has started the last two and rewarded the faith placed in with the opening goal against South Korea. It was quite a peach of a goal, even. Oliver Burke made a nice run, found Gilmour in the box, who flashed some skills to finish off the chance in Scotland’s 2-1 win.
Second start for the 21s, my first goal and more importantly won and topped the group pic.twitter.com/RylgcLRfPK— Billy Gilmour (@billygilmourrr) June 2, 2018
That followed a star turn in Scotland’s surprise 1-0 win over perennial favorites France, earning the 16-year-old plenty of praise from his coaches and in the Scottish media.
“Billy had a really effective and influential game, not only on the ball but in terms of distances covered and his positional sense. You could even see him offering instruction and advice to other players.
“He wouldn’t be here if we weren’t fully confident in his ability. We shouldn’t be surprised at him but I agree it’s great when they take the opportunity.”
-Scot Gemmill, Scotland U21 manager; source: Scottish Sun
With two wins and a draw, Scotland finished top of Group B, setting up a semifinal showdown against none other than back-to-back defending champions England. This year, the Three Lions feature Tammy Abraham (who’s already scored twice), Jake Clarke-Salter, Fikayo Tomori, and Jay Dasilva and are looking good for a three-peat.
But maybe Billy and Scotland — and let’s not forget about Harvey St Clair (19) like we did! — will have something to say about that!
The semifinal is today (Wednesday), at 18:30 and is available FreeSports TV (UK) and beIN Sports Connect (USA).