With nearly 150 senior appearances to his name at just age 21, Nathan Baxter already has a wealth of professional experience to draw upon as he tries to help newly promoted Ross County stay in the Scottish Premier League. His season had gotten derailed earlier by a shoulder injury, but he’s come back strong and has reclaimed the starting spot quite quickly.
Meanwhile, the young goalkeeper continues to put his long-term plan into action, and has his sights set ultimately on the Chelsea starting spot. There are also many sights on Baxter himself, who joined Chelsea at age 8, including former Chelsea goalkeeper coach Christophe Lollichon (and, presumably, his former protégé Petr Čech as well).
“Christophe has probably been to half the games I’ve played on loan and he’s my day-to-day contact. He provides the technical help and support to me, which is really important because it means I get the best of both worlds. Often the goalkeeping coaches I’ve worked with at clubs have been focused on the result of the team and encouraged me to be very pragmatic in my approach but I also get to learn off Christophe, who’s more interested in my progression as a goalkeeper.”
While obviously it’s Lollichon’s job these days to track and mentor Chelsea’s on-loan goalkeepers, and there are only two of them at the moment, Baxter seems to be positioning himself much better than any of his Academy graduate predecessors.
Obviously, it’s still a long road ahead, but he seems to be on the right track, with the right attitude, and the right expectations.
“If you look at the current England goalkeepers – Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope, Dean Henderson, they’ve all played in non-league, League Two and League One and they’ve all come out in the press and talked about how those experiences helped them. The experience for me of playing in the National League at 18 and then League Two at 19 has been great and those previous keepers to do that have gone on to have top careers, which is obviously my ambition as well.
“Now I’ve come up to Scotland and had the experience of playing in some big stadiums so I feel like I’ve kicked on with every loan and at each level I’ve improved. It’s my dream to come back and play for Chelsea, that’s what I’m constantly working towards but I’m fully aware that I need to take it step by step because if you look too far ahead, you don’t do your job at the club you’re at.”
-Nathan Baxter; source: Chelsea FC
Best of luck the rest of the season, and going forward to young Nathan!