Alfie Gilchrist made his full senior debut for Chelsea last night, starting at right full back and playing the first hour of our 4-0 win over second division Preston North End in the third round of the FA Cup.
For a Kingston-born Chelsea fan, who’s been with us since the under-11 level in the Academy, it was of course a dream come true — with his family sat in the stands and himself already a bit of a cult hero among the fans after his brief cameos off the bench recently.
But Gilchrist said something else, too, that was a bit more interesting when talking to Chelsea TV yesterday, something that reveals a bit more about his mentality and approach even at such a young age (20) — and adds yet another piece of evidence that he may in fact be John Terry reincarnate.
“I’ve really enjoyed that challenge. When I was playing with the Under-21s we had the EFL Trophy where we would play against the men’s teams, and they’re always my favourite games because they are a challenge — that has helped me.”
Gilchrist isn’t here just to enjoy the scenery. He’s here to make an impact, and take charge of the situation. While he had to leave yesterday’s game with cramps, hopefully there’s more opportunities coming his way, be that at right back or at center back, which is his best position.
“It’s a big moment and I want to keep going. Days like this are great for the academy because it shows how much work we put in every day over there, and it’s working.”
“[...] I’m a bit tired because I haven’t played too much recently as I have been training with the first team. It’s about keeping as fit as possible because you can’t get your match fitness, but you can try your best. When you get that opportunity you need to be ready.”
“I’m always ready and available for wherever the manager wants me to play, whether that’s centre-back or right-back. I’m covering that position in training every day and I try to learn everyone’s roles so I can help them on the pitch. I think that has really helped me. When I talk to the right-back, I know what he should be doing, so I think if I was the centre-back, what would I be saying to me. It’s a big part of my game because it makes your game easier if you’re talking, communicating and helping your teammates out.”
-Alfie Gilchrist; source: Chelsea FC
Already a leader, and a captain at the U21 level. The legend starts.