In the latest part of our series looking at the upbringing of our Academy youngsters, defender Charlie Wiggett talks signing for Chelsea, inspirations and Sunday league football.
What's your earliest memory of playing football?
I was probably about six or seven years old, joining my first Sunday league team and really loving it. Playing every weekend and training a couple of times a week was great, and also just playing in the garden with my dad while growing up.
Where were you playing your football before joining an academy set-up?
I was at AFC Newbury, my local team. It was really good, I made friends with people I’m still in contact with now and it was a good stepping stone. I was around eight years old when I got scouted and went for a trial at Swindon Town for six weeks and got signed there at nine years old.
What was the biggest change you experienced in moving from Swindon to Chelsea?
The difference in intensity during training and games, the difference in the level of coaching and the intelligence of everyone around.
Is there anything you miss about Swindon?
I had to move down here when I signed, so I live in the area Monday to Friday, whereas when I was at Swindon I still went to my normal school and was with my mates, only going to day-release. They are the only things I miss but it’s all part of the sacrifice I had to make.
Who did you look up to when you were younger?
There’s two people. On a personal note my mum is a big inspiration, she worked hard to look after me as a single mum and brought me up.
In football, I’ve always looked up to John Terry. He’s obviously a good captain and a good consistent player, someone I would want to be like when I’m older. I look at his old clips and try to take things from them and bring it into my game.
Did you play any other sports when you were younger?
Football was always the main thing. I played other sports like rugby at school but football was always the passion. I was okay at rugby and quite good at sprinting as well - I used to run the 200 and 400 metre races.
Earliest memory of watching football?
I can’t think of a specific game or moment, but I used to love watching Ronaldinho and Ronaldo. The way that they used to play from a young age always inspired me to want to play the game.
What one footballing memory sticks in your mind?
My main memory from football has to be when I signed for Chelsea. I got brought in on a six-week trial and got told they were going to extend it for a further six weeks. After those 12 weeks, I thought I was going to find out whether I was going to sign or not but they then extended it for another six weeks! At the end, when I eventually signed, all the hard work felt worth it.
What was it like juggling full-time football and school work?
It was probably one of the hardest things. Coming into Chelsea at 7am every day, having two school lessons, going outside to train and then having another three lessons before going to the gym was really hard. However, the support we get here makes it a lot easier - at the time, all you want to do is play football and now I’ve got through that with my GCSEs and good results.
- Our unbeaten Under-18s are in league action as Norwich City make the trip to Cobham this afternoon. Both Henry Lawrence and Dion Rankine have featured heavily for Ed Brand's side this season and both penned their first professional contracts with Chelsea earlier this week so they will be hoping to continue their good form with a positive result over the Canaries. Kick-off is at 12noon.