If we can remember all the way back to a simpler time that was last month, we might recall that a certain Billy Gilmour was having a bit of a breakout week, earning back-to-back Man of the Match awards in back-to-back matches against teams from Merseyside, first against Liverpool in the Cup (2-0), then against Everton in the League (4-0), in the space of just five days.
The 18-year-old had been on the first-team radar since the summer, when he impressed in pre-season training camp in Dublin, and while he made his senior debut pretty early on, he had to wait until the spring to truly get his shot. With Jorginho suspended and both Mateo Kovačić and N’Golo Kanté injured, Gilmour stepped in and exceeded all hopes and expectations with a couple mature, composed, versatile, commanding, and dare I say, nearly flawless performances.
For him, the coronavirus struck with particularly bad timing. Though perhaps we shouldn’t doubt his ability to pick things back up right where he left them off, if and when we return to training and playing.
Lampard doesn’t have any doubt either, thanks to Gilmour’s personality and the football education he received at Rangers and then in the Chelsea Academy.
“He came with the right attributes obviously and the right attitude and [Jody Morris & Joe Edwards in the Academy] would have worked on that. A lot of that has to come from within. And as I say, Billy’s consistency, he does it daily, there aren’t many days when you don’t see him turn up and try and do those right things.”
Speaking on Sky’s video-conferenced The Football Show, Lampard tried his hardest not to hype up young Billy G too much. But he failed.
Someone brought up Paul Scholes, which tends to happen whenever British midfielders are talked about, and Lampard fell right into the trap.
“I agree [...] Paul Scholes is obviously one of the greatest midfield players I’ve played against in the Premier League.
“It was interesting to play against Scholesy, in the early parts of his career he was a goal-getter and an arriver in the box. Just as you said there, he’d play it around the corner but not even that he would then arrive in the box and then he would have the ability and the feet and the nous to score goals and make assists regularly.
“And then to see him change his career. I know we think it’s probably easier – the cutthroat part of the pitch is the top-end where it becomes much tighter and quicker – in midfield it can be easier because you have more time in those deeper areas, but if you’re a player who’s not top quality like Scholesy, more time can sometimes be a problem for you.
“So he would always pick the right pass, he had incredible range. Again if you did try and jump from midfield and get to him and get close to him he’d just play it around the corner because he knew you were coming. And Billy has shown early signs of that kind of ability.
“I’m not comparing him to Scholesy, not way at all, but in terms of those basics that you mentioned, then Billy certainly has them and that’s a great platform to build hopefully a fantastic career.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Sky via Metro
If you missed the hype train, you’re in luck, as it’s been stuck in the station due to the quarantine. Still time to hop right on. I’d tell you to keep you (social) distance, but it’s going to be a crowded one...