When Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea, he didn’t just start splashing the cash on big name foreign stars. He also set about a long-term plan of improving the facilities, starting with the training ground and the youth academy. Two years later, in 2005, Chelsea moved to Cobham from Harlington and began building the current world class facilities and academy we continue to enjoy to this day.
That same year, a 6-year-old Mason Mount joined the Academy (who technically didn’t move to Cobham until 2008). Fourteen years later, the now 20-year-old Mason Mount is set to be part of the Chelsea first-team for the 2019-20 season, coached by a bunch of Chelsea greats and prospects. After 86 senior professional appearances while on loan at Vitesse and Derby, his next one (and many, many more after) should be for the Blues.
Unfortunately, Mason’s story is not the standard story for all those youth players who have walked the hallways and pitches of Cobham. He is the exception. But he also could be at the forefront of a new movement, one that we’ve been waiting since those initial plans were drawn up. Having grown up in a world of limited opportunities, having witnessed those who had come before him fall by the wayside, Mason’s feeling the winds of change, too.
“I can’t speak about the past. I was on loan for the last two years but coming back I feel like there is an opportunity there if you work hard.”
Those opportunities will still have to be earned, to be sure — and it won’t be easy against a stacked midfield — but what used to be true only on paper, now seems to be true in reality as well.
“It’s exciting times but there’s no given. No promises, not a chance. You have to prove yourself. He’s [Lampard] said that before. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, if you’re ready to play, he’ll play you. Even if you’ve been at Chelsea for a long time, since a little boy, it doesn’t matter.
“You look at the squad and there’s world-class players in there. So I’ve got to work hard in training, prove I can play. I’m learning from these players and I’m working hard to prove to the manager I can step up.”
-Mason Mount; source: Mail
Obviously, it’s still very early in this new era. It may turn out to be not a new era at all. But with Lampard, Morris, Edwards, et al. calling the shots, and talent like Mount, Hudson-Odoi, Reece James, et al. coming through, it just might be.