Frank Lampard said he ‘ran the game from midfield’, and with the Stamford Bridge crowd also clearly impressed by what they saw from him in the demolition of Grimsby, it’s fair to say 18-year-old Billy Gilmour’s full Chelsea debut last night couldn’t have gone much better.
Deployed in a deep-lying central midfield role, Gilmour grew into the game, and in the second half was arguably our standout performer. He was controlled, consistent and creative in possession, and certainly not afraid to get stuck in against players bigger and older than him.
‘It was a really good feeling to make my full debut, and it was really good to get the win,’ said Gilmour, who appeared off the bench in the Premier League against Sheffield United last month.
‘It was breathtaking. It was a great night to walk out in front of all the Chelsea fans. And the boys performed really well. You could see the attacking threat we had with the goals.
‘The gaffer has come in and wants to play the youth. It’s been really good experience for us and the we’re gaining confidence from it. I have worked hard for this so it wasn’t a shock, but I had to step up and show what I’m capable of. I think I played well.’
That he did, evidenced by being the second best player on the pitch for successful passes (89), pass completion rate (93 per cent), and key passes (four).
By his own admission he was helped by having so many familiar faces around him on the pitch, as well as the coaching staff overseeing things from the sidelines.
‘When you go to the training ground the gaffer will ask you to come and train with the senior team if you’re doing really well. It goes for all the boys; it doesn’t matter your age.
‘If you’re training well, working hard, playing well, the coaches all speak, and that’s where everyone want to be. They’re always coming over, watching training, watching our games, interacting with us. It’s a great environment at our training ground.’
It was at Cobham on Tuesday that Gilmour found out he would be starting via Joe Edwards during a game of rondo. His parents travelled down from Glasgow to watch his full debut against the League Two side, when he showed no signs of shyness on a big stage.
‘I’m Scottish!’ he laughed.
‘No, I’m not shy. On the pitch it’s football. If you’re not going to talk, what are you doing on the pitch? You need to communicate. I love football, a big part of my game is communicating.
‘I’m just taking it a step at a time. I’ve got the 23s, we’re doing really well there. Of course I want to get as many opportunities with the first team as possible. I just need to keep training hard and working hard.’
That message has been repeatedly underlined by Frank Lampard when discussing our youngsters in recent times, and Gilmour’s first steps point to a promising future in blue.