In the latest part of our series looking at the upbringing of our Academy youngsters, midfielder Ben Elliott talks enjoying basketball at school, winning his first tournament with Chelsea and captaining England Under-15s.
What’s your earliest memory of playing football?
My earliest memory of playing football is playing with my brother [former Chelsea youngster Kit] and mum in the back garden. My mum would often go in goal and me and my brother would take shots with the ball, usually somehow ending up in one of the neighbours' gardens!
Sometimes we would go to the park and play in the cage with lots of other people and that definitely helped me improve my first touch and close control because the space was very tight.
Where did you play your football before Chelsea?
Before signing at Chelsea, I played with my local Sunday league team Kingstonians for two years between the ages of six and eight. It was a lot of fun and that was when I realised how much I loved playing football.
Did you play in any other positions as a youngster?
From Under-9s through until Under-13sm, I would always rotate between playing central midfield and centre-back. I liked playing centre-back because we were often told to try and play out from the back, which meant that I got a lot of the ball and could try to affect the game by either passing forward or stepping in with the ball. It also helped me to learn the defensive side of the game.
However, after a year or two of playing 11-a-side football, I started to play predominantly in central midfield and then moved further forward into the number 10 role, which allows me to try and affect the game by creating chances and scoring goals. All in all, I enjoyed playing centre-back but I do prefer playing further forward.
Did you have any idols?
On the football side of things and being a Chelsea fan, I loved watching the likes of Didier Drogba, John Terry and Frank Lampard - they played at such a high level in some of the great Chelsea teams who I grew up watching. I remember watching the Chelsea vs Wigan game which clinched the 2010 Premier League title and being in awe of the amount of great players that Chelsea had on the pitch that day.
On a personal note, I always looked up to and learned from my parents because of their amazing work ethic and great morals.
Were you interested in any other sports as a youngster?
At my secondary school, Coombe Boys, I really got into basketball which I played quite a lot at break time and in the school team. At first, I thought I could be the next Steph Curry but it didn’t go too well for me with the school team and I averaged about two points per game. I still play a little bit but I still haven’t made much improvement on my jump shot!
What’s your earliest memory of watching football?
The 2006 World Cup final between France and Italy. I don’t think I really understood how the game was played at that age but I know that it was very eventful and made me want to watch more football.
What one footballing memory sticks to mind?
Winning my first trophy with Chelsea at the Premier League Christmas Truce Tournament as an Under-12. I remember scoring a long-range goal in the final against Liverpool and once I got that feeling of winning trophies, it made me hungry for more.
Another great memory is captaining England at the Under-15 level. It was an honour and a very proud moment for me and my family.