Frank Lampard set a modern Chelsea record last season by giving debuts to no fewer than eight (8!) Academy youngsters, and while the Youth Revolution™ has become more of a Youth Evolution™ this season, that doesn’t mean that we’re moving completely away from that paradigm.
Case in point: Tino Anjorin and Billy Gilmour, both of whom were already part of the group of eight last season, but have had to make essentially second debuts thanks to fairly significant injuries suffered earlier this year.
For Anjorin, last night’s match was also his first senior start for the club. And not only did his full debut come on a European night, he also got to do it with his family in attendance since it was the second game with (a small number of) fans allowed back in the stands. Truly a special occasion at a club he’s called home since before age 10, even amid a still raging pandemic.
“It’s a special night for me and my family, especially with the fans back now as well. To be able to have them here for my full debut was just amazing.
“My family were here as well. We had about five tickets so everyone was buzzing! I had loads of people asking for tickets but obviously because of Covid-19 they can’t all come so I had to select a few but they were all delighted.”
Watching him out there on Tuesday, it was hardly evident that Anjorin had just recently returned to match fitness after months out with an injury, and he was deployed in a relatively unfamiliar position on the left wing. While the Chelsea Academy go to great lengths to develop versatility and adaptability in our prospects, it’s still a pretty big ask to make your full debut in not exactly your customary position. All-in-all, the 19-year-old did quite well.
“It was different and it took me a while to get used to the position. I thought on the ball I did well and off the ball I could have been a bit better but obviously that’s just me having not played there very often. It’s a performance I can definitely improve on.”
“I’m feeling the fittest I’ve ever been. I’ve got a few 90 minutes in already this season. To come off the back of 90 minutes three days ago and then be able to play 80 minutes today shows that but I just have to go back now and work even harder than I did before.”
-Tino Anjorin; source: Chelsea FC
Hard work and determination, not to mention oodles of skill and promise. Remember the name.