Former Chelsea defender Michael Mancienne now plies his trade with New England Revolution, our opposition in the Final Whistle On Hate game tomorrow, and he has been looking forward to the contest as well as explaining why it is so significant.
Mancienne came through Chelsea’s Academy in the mid-2000s and ended up making six appearances for the club, including one off the bench in our Champions League last-16 victory over Juventus in 2009.
Thereafter he enjoyed a successful in the Netherlands with Hamburg and then back in England in the Championship, where he played over 100 times for Nottingham Forest.
Last August the 31-year-old joined New England Revolution who we meet in tomorrow’s Final Whistle On Hate game, and who today appointed former USA manager Bruce Arena as their new head coach.
‘It does make me very proud,’ Mancienne said of welcoming his former club to New England, especially for such an important reason.
‘It’s a special moment, especially because of what the game stands for. As athletes, we have a platform to stand up against discrimination and show the world we don’t stand for these kind of hateful things. To do it like this is brilliant. Obviously, to play against one of the best teams in the world is fantastic too, and to play against the club I grew up with and came through the Academy with is massive. It’s really exciting and I’m looking forward to it.’
Mancienne revealed he has suffered racist abuse in the past and those experiences give him motivation to make a stand against discrimination...
‘This game is so important because you’ve got one of the best teams in the world showing they don’t stand for it. They’re letting their own fans know, and Chelsea have got millions of fans, that they don’t stand for discrimination of any sort, which is brilliant, and to come to America and play this game to show that is massive.’
How are you finding your first year in America?
‘I am enjoying it, I feel really settled. Boston’s a great city to live in and I have my family here with me as well, which obviously makes it a lot easier for me to settle in. But everyone’s made me feel really welcome here, everyone’s lovely to be honest. All the boys are good, so I’m happy here and enjoying this part of my career.’
What is the main thing you took away from your time at Chelsea?
‘I learned so much being at Chelsea, coming up through the Academy. Just being able to be around world-class players is massive. It makes you a better player and being able to train with them increases your game 10-fold. You have to be on it in every single game in training. You can’t be slacking because there are so many great players, World Cup winners, Champions League winners, which is brilliant. I definitely learned my trade at Chelsea and I’m very grateful.’
And you left Chelsea with a Young Player of the Year award and an FA Cup winner’s medal to show for your time here…
‘Yeah, I did, they’re fantastic memories. It was obviously a great honor to be the Young Player of the Year at Chelsea and to get that medal. They’re just great memories, being there at the time, the team felt like it was a family. I loved going into training, I loved being around the world-class players. I really looked forward to training every day and making myself a better player.’
The full interview with Mancienne is in tomorrow night’s programme which is available for free in and around the Gillette Stadium…