To fully grow into world-class professionals, young players always need proper guidance during their formative years. Most of the time, this comes from people close to them, be they coaches, mentors, friends or family. But sometimes, these lessons come from less obvious sources.
In Callum Hudson-Odoi’s case, one such key source has been Raheem Sterling, who’s only six years older but has had to grow up very quickly and in turn has been helping to guide other young players, such as Jadon Sancho and Hudson-Odoi, through the muddy waters of professional football. The Chelsea youngster is taking all that on board, and looking to emulate the free-scoring Manchester City winger.
“Raheem is a top player. He’s scoring so many goals, assisting so many goals. I’d say he is one of the best wingers in the world right now. When I watch him play it’s an amazing feeling because he likes to help and contribute to the team as much as possible. I look at him as a player and say if I can be like that, get the goals he’s getting and the way he’s playing for the team, it could be amazing, not just for me but the team as well.
“When I have the opportunity, I do speak to Raheem. I ask him, ‘How do you get all the goals you are getting, how do you work for the team, how do you impact in big games?’ He gives you the best advice possible. He’ll tell me to keep working hard, he’ll tell me how to get the goals, how to get the assists.
“For a person like that to help you, it’s an amazing feeling. Obviously, he’s in a different team so he doesn’t have to do that. But he does because he wants everyone to do well. But a player like him, it’s a massive thing to know he’s in the national team and I can chat to him and say what’s good and what’s not good. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Of course, advice alone will not do much good. Hudson-Odoi has to apply them to his game and his day-to-day routine. Sterling has 41 Premier League goals in his last 74 Premier League appearances, since the start of the 2017-18 season. Callum’s still looking for his first Premier League goal, after 14 appearance. Fortunately, not only has he the talent to do so, he also has a favorable environment at Chelsea these days, with Frank Lampard & Co not shy about giving opportunities for the youngest in the squad to shine.
But while Lampard does appear to run the team as close to actual meritocracy as possible, he keeps the atmosphere positive and constructive at all times. The Chelsea legend renowned for his relentless hard work and winning mentality may be old-school in some of his training ground methods, but he’s very much a modern coach in other aspects and ideals. And while some, like Jose “Special Once” Mourinho, may warn about being too much of “a nice guy” as a football manager, as long as Lampard keeps winning, his methods will not be questioned.
“He is an amazing manager, he was an amazing player as well. He gives you a lot of encouragement, he loves to boost the players. He tells you if you are doing well, if you are not doing well he will tell you as well so you can work on your game and improve, but it is never bad criticism, it is always constructive.
“He always wants to help and push you to become a better player and that is what you need from a coach. You need the coach to push you and keep you working hard. That’s what he does. We can go to him and he will tell us what we need to do to improve our game and what we can do to become better players.
“We like that from a manager, he gives us opportunities to come and speak to him and ask him questions if we are not happy. It’s a nice feeling to have around the camp to know we have a manager who can speak about it.”
-Callum Hudson-Odoi; source: FourFourTwo
Open doors and open minds. It’s all looking up at Chelsea Football Club these days.