Ever since arriving at Chelsea, Ben Chilwell has had a wide smile on his face. Part of the reason is because, quite simply, the defender feels his move to Stamford Bridge is ‘perfect’ for this stage of his career.
Our new left-back was the latest player to be introduced to the media, as he spoke to journalists via video link at his introductory press conference at Cobham on Thursday afternoon.
The England international spoke at great length about how his move to the Blues came about, gave an insight into his budding relationships with some of his new team-mates and explained how he is fitting in with the squad at Cobham.
First, however, the 23-year-old defender, who made his home debut against Barnsley in the Carabao Cup and also got 65 minutes in the legs against Spurs in the week, spoke about the style of play Frank Lampard is trying to create at Chelsea and why is suits a modern-day full-back like himself perfectly.
‘I can’t get too carried away with the attacking side of things because I’m a defender first and foremost,’ explained Chilwell. ‘But I feel like it’s just perfect for me here really.
‘With the style of football we play, the players, the staff and the facilities I have around me I know that if I work hard I can really take my game to the next level here.’
Stepping through the doors at a new club for the first time can be a daunting experience, but when Chilwell arrived at Cobham he was greeted by a number of familiar faces.
The left-back has progressed through the youth age groups with England over the years and has been an international team-mate of several Chelsea Academy graduates. He revealed that his relationship with the likes of Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori and Ruben Loftus-Cheek helped him get a snapshot of what it would be like to play for Chelsea and compete on the biggest stages.
‘I’ve probably known seven or eight of the boys here for years now,’ said Ben. ‘Tammy (Abraham), Mase (Mount), Ruben (Loftus-Cheek), Fiks (Tomori), I was playing against them when I was about 14 or 15. I didn’t know them personally then, but we knew of each other for a long time and we are all close now.
‘When I go away with England, it was always nice to pick their brains on what it’s like at Chelsea. It’s definitely helped me settle in quite a lot knowing some of the boys here.’
Chilwell is part of a young and rich crop of English full-backs who base their game on putting themselves in attacking positions, as well as helping out defensively. When asked why the full-back position is more attractive now more than ever, he cited one of the greatest modern left-backs of the Premier League era, Ashley Cole, as an inspiration and revealed how some words of encouragement from the man himself has stayed with Ben.
‘I spoke to Ashley when I signed, I told me agent to contact him so that we could speak,’ added Ben.
‘I wanted to ask him what it would take to become a big player here and how to be successful at Chelsea. Ash just said that as soon as he stepped in the building when he signed and he saw the likes of the manager, John Terry and how much they’d kind of die for the badge and loved playing for Chelsea, he just bought into that straightaway. He said if I could do the same, want to do well for the club and give my all and show the fans that, then I would not have any problems and hopefully I can have a great career here.’
‘Players like Ash started the trend of attacking full-backs that want to get forward, as well as defending. Getting forward, creating chances and getting assists and goals, that’s something I want to bring here.’