The latest edition of the official Chelsea magazine is on sale now featuring exclusive interviews with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who discusses his desire to make his mark at Chelsea after coming through our Academy, and Andriy Shevchenko, who remembers how he fell in love with London and the Blues fans.
Cover star Loftus-Cheek explains the challenge he was set by Maurizio Sarri in the summer to prove he deserved to be part of the Chelsea midfield, and how he worked hard on the training pitch to convince our head coach and earn his chances to impress this season.
‘He told me I needed to improve on my positioning and develop my defensive awareness if I wanted to play in midfield for him,’ he told Chelsea.
‘But I worked hard on the things he had talked to me about and I think I’ve improved a lot on that aspect of my game, and he seemed to see the improvement and I think he sees me as a midfielder now too.
‘I completely respect the honesty of that and it gave me something to work towards. I’ve improved off the back of it and now I’m playing in midfield, so he’s an honest guy.’
Having progressed all the way through our Academy system since an early age, Sarri is just the latest member of Chelsea coaching staff who had helped Loftus-Cheek’s development into one of the Premier League’s most promising complete midfielders, and the England international also revealed how he was encouraged to add new elements to his game throughout his teenage years with the Blues.
‘I never used to use my body as much as I do now. Eddie Newton was always saying “why don’t you use your strength and your power, just put your body there and blow past him” because I naturally just always went to dribble and beat people with quick feet.
‘It took me quite a while to change how I play and use my strength and my body to my advantage, but I’m kind of mixing the two now, which at times can be deadly. That’s where working with a coach can really help, because when you’re good enough in an aspect you don’t think to change it. But these coaches, especially Eddie, see things differently and that’s where you can really improve.’
Of course, our number 12 is just one of several internationals vying for a place in the Chelsea midfield this season, with N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, Ross Barkley and Mateo Kovacic all having featured regularly.
However, the 23-year-old feels that abundance of options at Sarri’s disposal and friendly competition between team-mates is helping drive them all to be the best players they can be.
‘There are a few options in midfield and it’s all healthy competition for us, especially in training, pushing you to improve and do the best you can, to give you a chance of playing on the weekend. It definitely gives you that hunger and drive to be the best you can be in training, so it’s good for you personally and good for the team.’
When Andriy Shevchenko moved to Stamford Bridge from AC Milan in 2006 it was the transfer the world was talking about, a true global star and Ballon d’Or winner who had made the Champions League scoring charts his own during his time in Italy and at Dynamo Kiev. Unfortunately he struggled to have the same impact on the Premier League, but as Shevchenko explains in this revealing interview, that didn’t stop him falling in love with the club and west London, as well as building a close bond with the Blues supporters. Despite not hitting the same heights at the Bridge as he did at San Siro, the Ukrainian did provide his fair share of memorable moments in England, which he recalls while also examining the reasons he struggled to recreate his best form at Chelsea.
Bob Whittingham, one of the most prolific Chelsea strikers of all time, is the latest hero of years gone by to be remembered in the magazine’s in-depth historical features. A century on from his final appearance for the club, you can read all about how Whittingham managed his impressive tally of 80 goals in 129 appearances for the Blues, including hitting the back of the net 30 times in his first full league campaign here, a club record which stood for 48 years.
When two Rays ruled the Bridge
Midfield duo Ray Lewington and the late Ray Wilkins are the latest Perfect Partners to be honoured, examining why the two close friends also seemed made to play together on the pitch at Stamford Bridge in the late-Seventies. In the two players’ own words, you can find out what made them such a good match on and off the field as they progressed from the Chelsea youth team to the big stage.
Wing wizard Clive Walker was a firm fans’ favourite at the Bridge in the Eighties and Start to Finish takes a look back his career right from the beginning to the last kick through some fantastic images. Elsewhere, you can read Q&As with Chelsea Women star Maren Mjelde and Academy midfielder Jon Russell, as well as a run-down of the 10 greatest England internationals to have also appeared for the Blues.
The magazine is available to buy for £3.95 in the Chelsea Megastore at Stamford Bridge and all good newsagents. It can also be ordered online.