Lewis Hall, remember the name, we said back in January, when the then 17-year-old Academy product made his senior debut, becoming our youngest player ever in the FA Cup and the ninth youngest ever to play for the club all told.
Ten months later, the now 18-year-old Hall has only gotten better, and whereas in January he impressed against fifth-tier opposition in Chesterfield FC, yesterday he impressed against the best team in the land — it was not their best XI, but even Manchester City’s second-string XI is as good as any team in England. Case in point: backup goalkeeper and Man of the Match Stefan Ortega Moreno, who pulled off two fantastic saves against Hall alone.
But the part where Hall almost had a brace on his second senior appearance was just icing on the cake that was his enthusiastic, energetic, high-quality, and high effort display — on and off the ball — which belied his young age and inexperience. He combined excellently with Christian Pulisic in particular, showed great composure in all phases, and was certainly not overawed by the occasion.
He admitted to nerves in his debut back in January, but yesterday, it was just another day at the office really — well, an out of position day at the office actually for the central midfielder, which just makes his 75 minutes of action even more impressive.
“Disappointing result obviously, losing the game, and being knocked out from the competition so early. But personally, it’s what you dream of as a kid, playing in the biggest games [like] against a top top team in City at the Etihad. So really happy, yeah.
“[City are] one of the best the best teams in the world. [It was] very tough and physically demanding against [them] but I think we still had chances where we could have potentially got ourselves back into the game or put ourselves ahead. So yeah, I think we can take positives from the game.”
Hall played left wing-back yesterday, just as against Chesterfield, but in the Academy he’s usually deployed more centrally, which is his preferred role. But obviously if you’re good, you can be good anywhere and find a way to influence the match — and make the Academy proud in the process!
“If I’m honest, I prefer playing in the middle of the pitch. I feel like that’s where I can be most effective whether as a pivot or as an eight [but] I’ve played left side quite a lot. [...] I like to have that versatility so when the manager picks a team there’s different positions that you can be selected for.
“[I’m] taking it one step at a time [...] opportunities like this are something that you’re not quite expecting but it’s happened all so quickly that I think I’ve just got to take it one week at a time and from one game to the next. [...] Players like Reece, Mason, Trev [are] a big inspiration to all the young players who are training with the first team and getting experiences like I did tonight. I think everyone realizes that is possible.”
-Lewis Hall; source: Chelsea TV
Things you love to see and hear, indeed.
For Graham Potter, the youngster’s performance was perhaps the biggest positive on the night, and on that much, we can certainly all agree.
“I really enjoyed his performance. He took responsibility, took the ball in tight areas, attacked the box, and could’ve scored a couple of goals on another day. So it was a really nice performance, a mature performance I thought. He is a quiet lad but goes about his work. I’ve been really impressed with him.”
-Graham Potter; source: Football.London
Hopefully we don’t have to wait another ten months for his next appearance.