With football currently suspended, anything to do with Chelsea and Frank Lampard’s Youth Revolution™ is welcome news. So while this one’s technically from back in February, when Sky Sports’ Rio Ferdinand spent a day at Chelsea’s training facilities and chatted with Frank Lampard, Petr Čech, and a certain Fikayo Tomori, it still counts.
One of the Blues’ many young breakout stars this season, Tomori has been enjoying his time back at the club after spending time on loan at Brighton, Hull City and Derby County the last three seasons, the latter of which was under the guidance of Frank Lampard already. With 22 appearances to his name in the heart of Chelsea’s defense, Big Fik’s looking to kick on and emulate another former Academy defender. I wonder who could that be...
“Obviously we had John Terry who had made that step from the Academy and he was the player I looked at when thinking of the pathway to the first team. The club has really developed since he broke in to where we are now, with a lot of Academy players involved.
“In recent years we have seen a lot of players get close to that level but probably not have a sustained run in the side like the younger players have had this season. So JT was the one we looked at as the inspiration that we could get a chance here at Chelsea, and that was always the motivation.
“Once you get there [playing for the senior team] the challenge then is to stay there, to keep your place and try to impress the manager.”
Tomori couldn’t be more right. Frank Lampard has already given eight senior debuts to players from the Chelsea Academy — a club record — and, provided that the season continues at some point, a few more seem likely. While Tomori has been struggling to get game time in recent months, in part due to injures, he has been afforded real chances to prove himself and has shown glimpses of absolute brilliance at the back.
Despite all the trophies over the past two decades, it’s always been a bit of a damper that John Terry was the only Chelsea academy player to make the breakthrough to the first team during that time — especially given all the young and promising talent available. This makes our current Youth Revolution™ all the more satisfying. Players like Fikayo are finally afforded a chance. Lampard, assistant Jody Morris, and the rest of the staff have been at the very centre of this development.
“The manager has been great, certainly with me and the younger players. He put his trust in us from day one, even earlier for me and Mason [Mount] because he took us on loan with him to Derby. He has confidence to play the younger players if we are performing well in training, he gives us that opportunity and that’s massive.
“I feel that I’m ready to come back in [and play] but I’m not knocking the manager’s door down or anything. I want to show him on the training ground with my performances and attitude and I trust the manager to decide when it is right for me to play. I’m still young, I’m still learning and it’s the football that does the talking.”
-Fikayo Tomori; source: Chelsea FC
Due to this investment of trust, we have seen several England call-ups for Chelsea youngsters over the past international breaks as well, which is starting to become reminiscent of Chelsea former a strong core in past England squads.
As Tomori emphasizes, the players are always intent on impressing the manager and trust him fully, a hugely beneficial situation. It’s that sort of influence and trust that allows players like Tomori to rhapsodize about what’s been one of my favourite moments of the season.
If you haven’t yet, I’d highly recommend watching the entirety of Rio Ferdinand’s day at Chelsea as the interviews are more than worth of your time, especially the parts in which Lampard shares his thoughts and insights on his time back home.
What a time to be alive!