Callum Hudson-Odoi has today signed a new five-year Chelsea contract and the teenager sat down with the official Chelsea website soon after to discuss his new deal, his early impressions of working with Frank Lampard and his excitement at returning to full fitness.
The 18-year-old put pen to paper at Stamford Bridge to commit himself to the Blues until at least 2024 and continue his association with the club he first joined a decade ago as an Under-9. After signing off the formalities, Hudson-Odoi reflected on the significance of his long-term contract and claimed his boyhood club was the right place for him to achieve his targets.
Since the youngster’s season ended early in April, Lampard has returned to take charge of the Blues and it is the new boss’s influence that Hudson-Odoi starts by discussing in our exclusive interview.
Callum, congratulations on signing a new contract at Chelsea! Although you haven’t been fully immersed into training yet, how have you found working with the new boss so far?
‘I’ve been thinking for a while what it would be like to be playing for Chelsea for the next five years and how everything might go, especially now Frank is here as the manager. It’s a great feeling for all of us because we know he gives everybody a chance if you’re playing well and working hard.
‘He’s a very good manager. I can tell that by what he’s trying to do and the things he’s trying to implement into our football. He has the mentality of winning, which we all want and we all need, so him coming in was just an extra boost for me.
‘He’s already given me confidence, having a chat with me here and there, and it’s great when a manager has faith in you. I’m delighted he’s here and I’m looking forward to working more with him.’
The injury last season came at such an unfortunate time, just as you were competing strongly for a place in the starting team and ahead of some important games. It must have been difficult to come to terms with that?
‘I was so happy with how things were going because I was getting opportunities and playing well. I was thinking to myself that nothing could go wrong but the injury happened out of nowhere and it put me down for a while, especially because we had big games coming up like the Europa League semi-final.
‘Of course it was a blow but it made me mentally stronger and now I just can’t wait to get back playing.’
How is the recovery going?
‘I played last Friday against Brighton for the development squad and that was a great game for me to come back into because I’d been out for so long. It was a good 60 minutes to get out there and get my legs back to how they were.’
You obviously know Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori well so did you speak to them about their experiences of working with Frank at Derby County, once it became clear in the summer that he was taking charge?
‘The first thing I asked them was how he is as a manager, what he does and how he works. They told me he’s very good and obviously a past legend at Chelsea. It was good for me to hear from those boys who’d already worked under him that they had enjoyed it so much.’
What a start to the season it has been for your fellow Academy graduates! You must have been watching with huge excitement to see them doing so well?
‘I’m happy for all of them. As soon as they came back from loan, I told them they would get opportunities and they just had to take them because we’re at a great club. They’ve done that so well right from the start of the season.
‘Tammy and Mason have been getting goals, even Fikayo has scored as well, and they’ve done superbly well. They’ve been playing their part so they just need to keep working hard and believing in themselves.’
As well as the prospect of working alongside players from your Academy days, you also have the opportunity to work with two former coaches in Joe Edwards and Jody Morris. How much are you looking forward to linking up with them once again?
‘It’s amazing that two coaches I worked with for years in the Academy are now part of Frank’s coaching staff and we’re working together again. It’s a great feeling because I’ve worked with them already and they know how I am.
‘Jody is a coach who’s always been on my case no matter what – if he sees me jogging, he’ll be shouting at me to run faster – but that’s a good thing to know he’s watching me that closely. He wants me to work hard for the team because when you all work together, you get results. I appreciate that because they’re helping me do what I’m doing now.’
Our Europa League triumph gave you a second winner’s medal as a Chelsea player, following the victorious 2017/18 FA Cup campaign, in which you featured twice. Two major honours is a pretty good haul for any 18-year-old, isn’t it?
‘I watched the Europa League final at home because the doctor said I couldn’t fly due to my injury. It was a great win against Arsenal and I was buzzing about it!
‘It was a good competition for me to be involved and I got most of my goals so far for the club in those games. It was a great feeling for us to win it.
‘The FA Cup was the competition in which I made my debut against Newcastle and that was brilliant. It was great to get a few games under Antonio Conte and for me to know the staff were thinking about me then, even though I wasn’t training with them fully at that time.’
Looking ahead to the coming months and years, what is it you hope to achieve as a Chelsea player moving forward?
‘I want to lift as many trophies as possible, win as many games as possible and contribute to as many goals as I can as well. As a team, we just want to work hard to achieve the best results we can.
‘I can see the way we’re playing and it looks really exciting. We like to keep the ball, play with lots of combinations and the formation that we play is amazing for me as well. I’m delighted everything has been agreed and now I’m just looking forward to properly getting back to it.’