In the latest part of our series with the 2018/19 intake of Chelsea Academy scholars, Jordan Aina talks about winning schools tournaments at Anfield and leaning on the support of his older brother.
What are your earliest memories of playing football?
I got my first pair of football boots at the age of five when I was playing for a local team called Aveley FC, which is where I played until I was about seven when I came on trial at Chelsea. I was actually on trial for a whole year and then got signed at the beginning of my Under-9s year. I was desperate to sign but it became more normal for me and I felt part of the team.
I started out as a winger but we played in all different positions when we were younger. I played as a striker, in defence, and even went in goal for a bit. Our team was probably the best around and won loads of trophies.
You joined the Academy as an Under-9 after coming through the development centre programme and then started your journey through the ranks, just like older brother Ola had five years previously. How much of a help has he been?
It was easier for me to settle in because my brother had been here for a few years already so I’d been around Cobham a lot, coming in to watch him at training and games. I started playing football at a much younger age than Ola but he’s definitely helped the whole way and driven me to become better.
Did you still play schoolboy football growing up?
I played for my school team, Corpus Christi, and we had a few Chelsea Academy players at the school as well like Jon Panzo and Kit Elliott. We were all different ages but played together in the same team and actually won the national Premier League Schools Tournament two years in a row. The finals were at the Emirates and then Anfield so those were special memories.
Which players did you look up to when you were younger?
I used to watch Dani Alves quite a lot, and more recently David Luiz and Marcelo. In midfield, I like watching Pogba because he’s just got something about him that I like. I try to take bits from their game and learn.
You trained at Chelsea four times a week and then came in on day-release as a teenager, which must have been a big transition?
It was quite a lot of football but I dealt with it quite well and managed to keep focusing on my school work as well. Day-release was tough at the beginning because you miss days at school to come in to training and you have to then catch up on all the work, but gradually I got used to it and found a way to make it work.
Did you watch much football growing up?
I used to watch football from different countries, not just English football but Brazilian and Spanish as well. I would search on the internet and find loads of clips, seeing the differences between the countries.
The 2010 World Cup was really exciting and I had a real buzz about it. The football was good and I enjoyed watching that.
Which fond footballing memory really sticks in your mind?
We went to Sardinia on a tour as Under-14s and I actually finished as the second top scorer in the team, even though I played at left-back. I also remember scoring a really good volley against Charlton at Cobham as an Under-15.
-Please note, our Under-18 Premier League fixture away at Arsenal tomorrow (Saturday 2 February) has been postponed due to the cold weather.