Up until now, Chelsea’s 3-1 win over (David Moyes’s) Manchester United on Sunday, January 19, 2014 at Stamford Bridge was noteworthy for two main reasons.
One, it featured a hat-trick from Samuel Eto’o in his one and only season as a Chelsea player.
Two, it featured the second debut of Nemanja Matić, after Chelsea re-acquired him from Benfica four days prior. Matić would go on to be a key player in the Blues’ next two Premier League titles, in 2014-15 and 2016-17.
Now we can add a third reason as well, after @CarefreeYouth pointed out earlier this week that the image at the top, taken by club photographer Darren Walsh, of Eto’o celebrating his third goal on that January day also features none other than Callum Hudson-Odoi as the ecstatic ballboy. Find someone who looks at you like The CHOsen One’s looking at Old Man Trouble!
Hudson-Odoi, then a 13-year-old in the youth academy, confirmed the find on social media, then sat down with the official website to reminisce about that night.
“I remember him scoring a hat-trick and the third goal was near where I was sitting in the corner. He came over to celebrate. Obviously I was happy for the team because they’d won and for him as well.
‘When he started celebrating, I was delighted and he just saw me, came over and held my hand. For a young boy seeing a professional footballer coming to do that for you, it was crazy. I was smiling so much.”
Five years may have passed since then, but the emotions of that moment resonate to this day, both in terms of Callum’s commitment to the club (how’s that new contact coming along?) and his desire to inspire the next generation just as the likes of Eto’o inspired him.
“You dream of being a professional as a kid, especially at the club I’ve now been at for so long. You think, ‘Can I become like him or at least get to the top where he is?’ and I’m now fulfilling that dream. It’s the boyhood club I’ve always loved and played for, so I’ve always felt that that dream is there. Now I just want to carry on and keep going.”
“If I score a goal and I see someone there, I’d definitely celebrate with them. For them it would be like a dream as well. They would feel like I felt at the time so that would be a chance for me to give back to them.”
-Callum Hudson-Odoi; source: Chelsea FC
Callum’s set to return to competitive action next month following Achilles surgery and rehab. Hopefully he will have many chances indeed to emulate Eto’o’s goal celebration in the coming years and years.