In the latest part of a new series introducing our 2018/19 intake of Academy scholars, the official Chelsea website talks to Jake Askew about the moment he knew he had to be a goalkeeper and learning the game from the sidelines at Stamford Bridge.
What are your earliest memories of playing football?
I played in the junior school team in Ruislip where I grew up and we got to a few cup finals, which was a great experience for us because we were still so young. I actually started as an outfield player but got turned down for my local team because I wasn’t good enough.
After that, I signed for their rivals and there was one tournament when I was seven and our goalkeeper was away so I went in goal. There was a Chelsea scout watching and as soon as I saw him talking to my parents on the sidelines, I knew I had to be a goalkeeper.
So how did you go from playing in Ruislip to the Chelsea Academy?
I started off training at a development centre in Ruislip where I did more technical work, then came into Cobham more often in my Under-8 season before signing as an Under-9. We trained Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings, then played on a Sunday. It was tough to balance school work with football, especially in Year 10 and Year 11 when you have to knuckle down for your GCSEs.
Did you watch much football growing up?
The first tournament I can really remember is the 2010 World Cup, although it didn’t go too well for England that summer. Spain actually won the final with Iker Casillas a big part of their team and I remember thinking he is someone I want to base my game on as a keeper.
A lot of professional footballers played other sports in their teenage years so did you enjoy anything else apart from football?
I played a lot of cricket when I was younger and only really gave it up a few years ago. I was wicket-keeper as well so it helped with my reaction time and reflexes. It’s a good thing for switching yourself off from football and just having a laugh with your mates where it’s not so serious.
Which fond footballing memory really sticks in your mind?
We went to a tournament in Holland a few years ago and played against Feyenoord, a team that were physically a lot stronger than us. We’d had a few injuries and illnesses on the trip so it was a tough game and we drew 0-0, taking it to extra-time. I managed to save a penalty in extra-time and then another three in the shoot-out. We went on to win the tournament and I was given goalkeeper of the tournament so that stands out as one of my biggest achievements in academy football.
Which players did you look up to when you were younger?
I always looked up to Casillas because he came through the ranks at Real Madrid, got his debut at a young age and then went on to become a legend in the game. Players like Buffon, Pickford and Ederson are also good to watch and try to learn from.
When I was growing up in the Chelsea Academy, we had the opportunity to be ball-boy at games at Stamford Bridge. It was an extra way of getting a goalkeeper’s perspective from behind the goal because you could see things up close and hear everything.
There was a game against Manchester City when Joe Hart was playing and I can remember the amount he talked to his defenders and the content of what he was saying. I tried to pick up different things from different keepers and it’s really helped me develop.
You’ve been at Chelsea for almost 10 years, which is pretty special in itself.
I always get flashback memories on my phone showing my pictures from ‘on this day’ when I was younger. It’s funny because it’ll be a picture of us as Under-9s and I’ll turn next to me to show Tino Anjorin and a few of the other players who were in that team with us. It makes us appreciate our journey and how much of an achievement it is to be here now but we know it’s only the start and we have a long way to go.
-Our Under-18s host Southampton in the league this weekend, with kick-off slated for 11am at Cobham tomorrow (Saturday).