Presentations were made and advice was shared as Chelsea Academy players past and present joined with staff, parents and siblings at Cobham for the annual end-of-season barbeque.
Held at the training ground every May, the social event gives the opportunity for all those invested in our youth development programme to come together and celebrate the achievements of the previous 12 months.
While there were fewer trophies on parade than in previous years, the presence of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ethan Ampadu, Reece James and Trevoh Chalobah provided plenty of evidence that our young players have made their mark on senior football this campaign.
That ultimate aim of a football academy, to develop players to progress and succeed in the professional men’s game, has been achieved with over 700 senior appearances clocked up in 2018/19 by Chelsea Academy graduates. Maurizio Sarri has handed out more than 10 per cent of those.
Loftus-Cheek and Hudson-Odoi, the latter on crutches following successful surgery on his damaged Achilles tendon, passed on guidance and tips to their young successors about what is required to make it to the top. James and Chalobah, who have both spent the season in the Championship, spoke of lessons learned in their first year out of academy football. The past graduates then mixed with the youngsters for photos.
The Scholar of the Year was also announced as Henry Lawrence, the midfielder who has played 20 times for our youth team this season and made his UEFA Youth League debut. The award recognises achievements both on and off the field, with the 17-year-old's hard-working nature and application cited as key to his recognition. Lawrence will pick up the award at the Premier League Youth Development Conference next week.
Meanwhile, the Academy Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards will be among those presented at this evening’s Chelsea Awards night. Supporters can watch live on Chelsea TV and via The Fifth Stand App from 8.15pm BST.