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Trust, confidence, and doing something different: Billy Gilmour’s three keys to success

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The 18-year-old continues to turn heads in Chelsea’s midfield

Chelsea FC v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Two games, two wins, two Man of the Match awards. This is Billy Gilmour’s world, we’re just living in it.

He’s the talk of the town and it almost seems too good to be true. It’s actually quite ridiculously how this tiny little 18-year-old has stepped onto the Premier League pitch and has instantly become one of the best players on it. It’s one thing to do so in preseason or in a League Cup match against fourth division Grimsby Town. It’s something else entirely to do so against Liverpool and Everton in games of real importance and consequence. I’m not sure we can properly process this without either overplaying or underplaying its significance.

The man who might be most calm about it is Billy himself, although even he couldn’t contain his smiles in the post-match interview with Chelsea TV as he reflected on what was quite possibly Chelsea’s best performance of the season.

“[Our play] was really good today, with the amount of times we were playing forward, then getting between the lines and playing wide, and getting in the box. That happened a lot. And today we took our chances: 4-0, great result!”

Gilmour himself should’ve had an assist on what should’ve been 5-0, but fellow youngster Tino Anjorin fluffed his lines when it looked like he was guaranteed to score. A slightly slow touch allowed Djibril Sidibé to slide in and prevent a goal for Gilmour’s fellow 18-year-old, but fortunately the scoreline was such that they could laugh about it aftewards.

“When I saw Tino, I was thinking, should I shoot or should I pass it? Nah, he’s gonna score! Playing with Tino, you know Tino doesn’t miss ... I don’t know what happened! He should’ve scored! We were just talking about it in the changing room, laughing about it.”

Chelsea finished the game with three 18-year-old Academy boys out on the pitch, with Armando Broja the latest to make his senior debut, bringing the season total in that regard to a club-record eight. Gilmour’s practically a veteran compared to them, and spoke like one in assessing their performances.

“Well done to Tino and Armando on their Premier League debuts. They’re buzzing.

“I talk about trust all the time with the gaffer, and that just shows how much trust he has in the youth players, coming into training, getting opportunities and taking them. You’ve seen today when they came on, they’ve done well. Armando was running the channels, winning free kicks and Tino nearly had a goal and was doing well getting 1-v-1s. Overall it was a great performance and a good day for Chelsea.”

Trust has been a key word at Chelsea this season, and few things epitomize it better than Lampard & Morris & Co trusting the youth, who in turn trust the faith given to them and trust that the opportunities will be there to showcase their talents.

And all that leads to confidence, both as a group and as individual players. The former is a necessary ingredient to any winning team. The latter is a necessary ingredient for any player to be able to play up to their potential.

Safe to say, Billy G’s got both in oodles, and is only looking to keep impressing and earning his opportunities and the trust placed in him — regardless of where exactly in midfield he gets to play.

“It’s a bit surreal still, coming on and playing with top players, but it’s something I’ve been dreaming of and when I go out there, I need to show that I’m not just about [safe] passing. I need to do something different to keep my position in the team.

“The boys in the team have been brilliant with me. Toni always talking, Azpi always talking, giving me the real confidence I have when I go out with them in training and in games. That’s something you need as a young player. If you don’t have that confidence, you’re not going to play well; you’re going to be under pressure and be a bit naïve. But I love it and the first-team boys do really well with the youngsters.”

-Billy Gilmour; source: Chelsea TV

That was Gilmour’s seventh appearance of the season (fourth start). With Jorginho suspended for the next two games still and the severity of Mateo Kovačić’s injury as yet undiagnosed, Gilmour should be getting several more chances to stake his claim on a starting position.

I mean, how can you drop him at this point?

“It’s exciting to be at Chelsea and I just want to take my opportunity when it comes. [...] I’m just delighted to help the team get the win. [...] Hopefully I can get another chance to play. I’m loving it around here at the minute, it’s brilliant.”

-Billy Gilmour; source: Chelsea FC

May it long continue!