In the first of a new series introducing our latest intake of Academy scholars, the official Chelsea website talks to striker George Nunn about his early footballing years.
What are your earliest memories of playing football?
My first team was a local side in Crewe called Ruskin Park Rangers and we used to play on Sundays but I also played rugby quite a bit growing up. I went on trial at Crewe Alexandra aged eight or nine years old but I didn’t get signed and then actually stopped playing football so much.
I was a full-back in rugby because I could kick it quite well but I kept getting smashed and coming home covered in bruises. I worked out that playing as a striker in football was less dangerous so I went back to the round ball.
I played in pretty much every position – left-back, left-wing, right-wing, even in goal. There was one game against Manchester City when our goalkeeper broke his arm and I had to take his place. We were 2-1 down and it ended up 3-3 but the goal we conceded was an own-goal anyway so I’m not counting that!
How were you eventually signed by Crewe?
I was playing for one of their development teams, which is like a feeder team for the main academy. They play the academy team of that age group every season and the coaches pick out a few players who have done well.
There were a couple of coaches who liked me and it was a case of second time lucky when I signed at the start of my Under-11 season.
Who were your early football influences?
My brother was a few years older and he was actually quite good at football. I remember watching him playing in the back garden and every time he missed, the ball went over the wall into the neighbour’s garden. I would then have to go round and knock because I was the sweet one and you have to be a bit charismatic when you’re asking for your ball back every half an hour.
My dad was never really big on football but he does look like Sean Dyche, which has become a bit of a long-standing joke between us. He even started sending pictures of him to me before every game as a sort of good luck message, which I know sounds a bit weird.
My phone would go off in the changing room at Crewe and it would be a picture of Sean Dyche. Now, instead of him messaging me all the time, I have Dyche’s face on my shin pads!
What are your memories of watching football growing up?
I’ve never properly supported a team, although we did follow Crewe because they were our local side. I remember my first ever game was at Crewe - it was freezing cold and it was the most boring 0-0 game ever so I thought ‘this isn’t worth it’. We went once to Manchester United versus Liverpool in a box at Old Trafford and Fernando Torres was playing, which was a much higher standard.
I did follow England and remember the World Cup in 2006 when we got knocked out on penalties by Portugal. I was sitting on my own watching it on TV, with my full kit on and name on the back. I cried when we lost the shoot-out.
Do you have a fond footballing memory that sticks in the mind?
When playing for Ruskin, we had games in a local soccer centre and I came on one day for the final 10 minutes. I just wanted to take a shot as soon as I possibly could and ended up scoring a brilliant goal from the halfway line.
I just remember being so excited that I ran all the way to the corner flag and did a knee slide on the astro surface. My knees were cut up for at least a week but I still maintain it was worth it for that moment.
Before signing for Chelsea in the summer, you played in the FA Youth Cup last season as a schoolboy?
I was meant to play in the round before but my school wouldn’t let me have the day off because it was away and the team had to travel to Sheffield. When we got through and were drawn away at Colchester in the next round, my parents went in to school and asked for special permission.
It was a five-hour journey and a really good experience of that side of the game. I started up front but unfortunately we lost but I was proud that I could say I’d played in the Youth Cup at the age of 15.