Reece James made plenty of positive headlines for his performances on loan at Wigan and now he has capped off a wonderful season by playing his first senior game in a Chelsea shirt.
The 19-year-old came off the bench in our win over New England Revolution on Wednesday night and, from his position at right-back, delivered one teasing cross that almost led to Pedro scoring.
His appearance at the Gillette Stadium was just reward for not only a sensational first loan in the Championship with Wigan, in which he won their three main Player of the Year awards, but also his continued excellence in our Academy teams prior to that.
‘I’ve always had that dream of coming on and playing for my boyhood club, and I am thankful I got to fulfil it,’ James told the official Chelsea website. ‘It’s a dream come true.
‘It is great involvement for me, getting to play with players I have watched as I have been coming through at Chelsea, players who have won Champions Leagues, World Cups.
‘I found out a few days before I would be coming out on the trip and I was really excited. I just take in my stride really. I remain focused and now I will try and help the squad build up to the Europa League final.
‘It was a very good season at Wigan,’ added James, who regularly featured in midfield for the Latics.
‘Playing week in week out at a decent level was a good achievement. This is the icing on the cake and hopefully it’s just the start.’
James is one of a number of young Chelsea stars who have shone in the Championship this season. Three others, who he has regularly called team-mates in our Academy, will contest the play-off final later this month after Derby and Aston Villa both reached the Wembley showpiece in dramatic circumstances.
Tammy Abraham scored the winning penalty for the Villains against West Brom, and a day later Mason Mount netted in Derby’s extraordinary 4-2 win at Leeds, with Fikayo Tomori also starring at the back. Understandably James is sitting on the fence when it comes to choosing a winner!
‘I was happy to see Tammy and Mason score in the semis,’ he said.
‘I’m sure it will be a very good final but I’m not ready to make a prediction! It’s too early for that. It’s a one-off game that can go either way. I am looking forward to watching it.’