In the latest part of our series looking at the upbringing of our Academy youngsters, winger Dion Rankine talks life at Chelsea, signing his professional deal and lifelong idols.
What’s your earliest memory of playing football?
My earliest memory of playing was with my friend, we were going to play Sunday league football back in Wellingborough where I live. I remember my dad asking me if I wanted to go and I wasn’t too sure but I went and really enjoyed it - I’m still close friends with the boy I first played with.
Where did you play your football before Chelsea?
Before coming to Chelsea I was at Cambridge United – it was good there I developed everything while playing at right-back, then I moved forward and became a winger. I used to travel there every Tuesday and Wednesday for training and then we would play our games on Saturday.
How different is it being at Chelsea now compared to life at Cambridge?
It’s completely different, here we have the chance to go on tours and abroad whereas at Cambridge I didn’t really get the chance to play foreign opposition.
What was your first thought when you heard Chelsea were interested in you?
I can’t really describe it, I was ecstatic. I was full of excitement and couldn’t wait to come down to Cobham and trial. We had played Chelsea earlier in the year and then they contacted Cambridge to ask if they could bring me to the club.
Who did you look up to when you were younger?
In football I looked up to Ronaldinho because when I started playing football my dad showed me some of clips videos on YouTube and I couldn’t stop watching how easy he went around players. Off the pitch it would have to be my mum because of the way she holds herself, she’s always willing to help others and she’s always got a smile on her face.
Did you play any other sports when you were younger?
I played a little bit of everything, but nothing too serious. I did a bit of swimming and some athletics – sprinting was my thing.
What’s your earliest memory of watching football?
My earliest memory would come from the 2010 World Cup. I remember watching England and wanting the team to do well but we sadly got knocked out by Germany at the knockout stage.
What one footballing memory sticks in your mind?
The one moment that sticks out for me is when we first one the Premier League tournament at Under-14s age group. It sticks with me because I had never really won anything while playing football and it was the first big thing I had won as a player.
You recently signed your first professional contract at Chelsea, how did that feel?
It was such a proud moment for me, all my family came down and they were all so happy. It was such a good moment and was everything I have worked for – I can’t wait to push on.
- Ed Brand's unbeaten Under-18s are in action at Cobham this morning and they take on local rivals Fulham who currently sit first in the league standings a point clear of the Blues in second place.