I used to not believe in the concept of resurrection until I saw Luis Suárez come back from the dead on Easter Sunday 2014. Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s recent revival isn’t quite as miraculous, but it’s certainly noteworthy just the same. His winning goal in Sunday’s FA Cup semifinal was nearly three years in the making, and celebrated accordingly.
There was certainly a fateful air of divine intervention about it all, with Mateo Kovačić’s first-half injury calling Loftus-Cheek into action earlier than he might have been expecting. But more pertinently, there was the very tangible thing of the 26-year-old stepping up to repay his manager’s faith and the challenge he had posed. It was just the other day that Thomas Tuchel talked about how Loftus-Cheek needs to keep pushing to (re-)unlock his potential.
“It was a big moment [and] these are the next steps for him that he can absolutely feel how much influence he can have. We want him to show everybody in the stadium his potential and not only us on the training ground. These are the next steps for him and we will encourage him to do so.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
It’s been a long way back, physically, mentally, proverbially, actually for Ruben from the torn Achilles three years ago. This winning goal is just one tiny moment in that long journey, but it could be the moment that truly turns the tide. It’s certainly a well-deserved reward for all the hard work and belief he’s put in over the years.
Now he just needs to keep it going.
“It was a fantastic moment, and way overdue. It’s been a tough road, injuries, going on loan to find my form again, but I always believed in myself and I always wanted to play for Chelsea. I’ve played quite a lot this season so I’m happy.
“[...] I feel like I’ve done well in the last couple of games and I wanted to keep the momentum, but the strength in depth in the squad is fantastic. [The] reason why I’m still here is because of my mentality through all the injuries. I keep going and I still believe in myself. My time will come and I will keep knuckling down and working for it.”
Loftus-Cheek does have over 30 appearances on the season, though more than half of them have come as a substitute. That squad rotational role has led to some suggestions recently that he could be on his way out this summer, with two years left on his contract.
Not if he has any say about that (and especially if he keeps this form going)!
Loftus-Cheek has no desire to leave #CFC this summer and his prospects for club and country are on the up in 2022. My column here: https://t.co/0i4OffLjX0— Simon Johnson (@SJohnsonSport) April 18, 2022