It’s been an eventful calendar year of 2019 for Callum Hudson-Odoi. Subject to a massive January transfer saga with Bayern Munich, playing a key role in Chelsea’s late-winter and springtime resurgence under Sarri, suffering a major injury, signing a new long-term contract, returning to action, and picking up right where he left off in April with 1 goal in 3 assists in his first three senior games in all competitions. And there are still three months left before the new year!
This is certainly not the way we had imagined we would get to this point with Callum, but at least he didn’t leave us for the supposed greener pastures of Bayern Munich, who were promising immediate fame and fortune and, most importantly, first-team minutes. In January, Hudson-Odoi looked quite likely to leave. Now he’s here for the long haul, signed through 2024, and confident that he has made the right choice for himself.
“The club have done so much for me and I’m so thankful for that. The decision that I made was a very good one for me and my family. We all thought that it was the right club to be at. I’ve been here all my life, so there’s no need to change yet. My mum and dad are happy where they are and I’m happy where I am.”
-Callum Hudson-Odoi; source: BBC
The series of events that have led us to this point have been as dramatic as they’ve been unpredictable and unlikely. Hudson-Odoi’s injury, Sarri’s departure, Hazard’s departure, Lampard’s arrival, and of course the transfer ban have all shaped the club’s future in significant ways. Would Chelsea’s youth revolution look the way it does today were it not for them? Would we even have a youth revolution if we could’ve spent big to replace the likes of Eden Hazard and David Luiz? Would we have hired Lampard, Morris & Co (not to mention all the other ex-players in coaching roles) if we could’ve brought in an established, big name manager? We’d like to say yes, especially based on current evidence, but history would not have been on our side.
Chelsea have gone from the pariah of youth development to the absolute model of perfection in two months. Even if the over-reactionary hot-take football media, that’s a tremendous narrative about-face. For Hudson-Odoi, the credit for all that needs to be shared between the club, the players, and of course the manager.
“The transfer ban is a good thing for us because it gives more players the opportunity to play. But at the same time, I think even if there wasn’t a transfer ban, the young boys still would’ve pushed for minutes. We’re all working hard and as much as possible to get opportunities.
“The manager is obviously rewarding all the players, for who was working hard, who was training well, and who was playing well. It doesn’t matter if you’re one of the best or one of the worst as long as you have the right mentality and the right work ethic.”
Lampard has preached hard work and dedication since taking over, and while Hudson-Odoi was unable to be there at the start because of the injury, he’s quickly worked his way back into the reckoning. After the ordeal of the past six months, both physical and mental, the 18-year-old now just wants to show that he can not only stay at that level, but keep improving from there.
“Everything was going to plan. I was playing games. I got called to the national team. Everything was going well. Then the injury came, which was a bit disappointing. But those are the things you have to go through. You’ve got to have a strong mentality about it, to get through it.
“There were dark days [but] if you carry on working hard, the injury you had will fizzle away and you will be back to normal how you were before. So you have to make sure you have the right mentality. And family around me helped of course.
“It was unfortunate that it happened, but you can never time an injury, you can never plan for something like that to happen. It’s happened [and] I’ve come back stronger than what I think I was before. I’m just trying to stay mentally strong, physically strong and hopefully getting fitter and fitter, and getting better as well.”
With mentality like that, it’s no wonder the world is at his feet.