Steps Up: Jordan Houghton

At Chelsea since he was an Under-8, Jordan Houghton enjoyed his first spells away from the club last season initially on loan at Gillingham and then towards the end of the campaign at Plymouth Argyle.

The 20-year-old is the latest subject of our feature focusing on those players who have continued their footballing development on loan, and in it he discusses what he learned in Leagues One and Two and getting back to work…

First of all Jordan, what was playing in Leagues One and Two like? How did it compare to youth football?

It was very different but it was a good experience. It was a lot more physical. There are many more balls in the air when I am used to getting the ball pinged in to my feet in midfield, but there was a lot up around my head and neck where you have to try and get flick-ons. There were lots of little tackles, block tackles, and lots of working on second balls which is good as you don’t get to do so much of that in 21s football.

I have now got both aspects in my game. I can get the ball down if needs be and also I can win a battle as well which is only good for my development.

It must have been exciting to be part of a senior football team with a dressing room full of men and supporters travelling all over the country to watch you, and where everything is about getting results…

That’s the one thing I love about playing men’s football because most people would say I play with my heart on my sleeve and play with a lot of passion, so it was good to be playing with the same kind of players.

The Gillingham and Plymouth fans were amazing. Plymouth took about 35,000 to Wembley [for the play-off final against AFC Wimbledon]. At the training ground hundreds of them waved us off. It’s something you obviously don’t get at Under-21s football and that’s another amazing experience I’ll remember forever.

 Houghton in action for Plymouth against Cambridge last season.

A thigh injury kept you out of Plymouth’s successful play-off semi-final games against Portsmouth. That must have been a real test of your mental strength…

Of course, but I have had a long-term injury before and missed a Youth Cup run when we got to the final, so I am used to that. At the end of the day injuries come with the game so you have just got to expect it and look to move on. I worked hard to get back fit and I got the opportunity to be on the bench at Wembley. As a first season in men’s football I was very pleased.
 

Tell us a bit more about your Wembley experience…

Obviously I would have liked to have come on at the end but I respect the manager’s decisions and what he thought were the right substitutions to make. We were unlucky not to win and I wish Plymouth all the best for this season. It was an amazing experience and something that I can only take with me in the future and want more of - to go back to Wembley and hopefully be playing next time.

Finally Jordan, it must feel good to be back in pre-season now…

Definitely. I have been doing a bit in the off-season to keep ticking over and since coming back I am keeping on top of it with strength programmes. I am feeling fit and strong and I am raring to go.