Following his impressive start to life under new management, the young star speaks about development for him and his contemporaries at Chelsea and about important matters away from the field of play…
On-pitch understandings forged in the Chelsea Academy were clear to see during the win at Tottenham in our most recent game.
Callum Hudson-Odoi was frequently part of moves involving Mason Mount and Reece James as the Blues attacked Spurs down the right and the first of those names believes new head coach, Thomas Tuchel, is keen to look at what the young players can bring to the side, one of the major features of the management by his predecessor, Frank Lampard.
Indeed Tuchel has started Hudson-Odoi in all three of his selections so far, at right wing-back for two of the games and then as a forward on Thursday night in north London.
‘He [Tuchel] is looking at the Academy and looking at the young players playing already and he wants to make sure they develop well,’ confirms Hudson-Odoi.
‘So whether it is coming up to train with the first team or whether they are in the first team already, trying to get games or playing games, he wants you to improve. He tries that with every training session and every game, he keeps making you try to develop and working on weaknesses that you have.
‘It is a good feeling to know that you can always get better day by day and you keep improving day by day,’ adds the 20-year-old, ‘because you want to do your best, not just for yourself but for the team as well. I feel like he has come here to try to improve everybody, as a player and as a team as well.’
Hudson-Odoi’s progress at Chelsea began as an Under-8 and although it is now three years since he made his senior debut and he is firmly established in the men’s first team squad, he can clearly remember life a short distance away in the Academy set-up.
‘I feel like every coach over there was giving us the maximum effort to try to make us come over here,’ he says.
‘Every coach wanted to develop you every age group you were at, to get better and be a player that would be quality enough and have the capability to come over here and train with the first team.
‘Throughout the ages every manager knew what you are good at and what you are not good at and what you need to improve to have the opportunity to come over to the first team. So I am always thankful to everybody who is over there who helped me to come here because it is a big step to play games for the first team, and to do it at 17 was a big feeling.
‘It is definitely enjoyable when you are over there because you never know when the manager over here will come and give you the call, so you are always trying to give your best and try your hardest to impress the Academy managers as much as possible. They are doing an amazing job and hopefully they keep doing that as well.’
Hudson-Odoi of course is still a work in progress despite already having 83 senior appearances to his name. He highlights what he is hoping to improve on most this season.
‘More goals and more assists for the team,’ he states. ‘I feel like I create chances for myself but sometimes it is not going in the back of the net so I feel I need to score more goals and help the team much more in the defensive as well.’
In November, Hudson-Odoi took part in a special video with former Chelsea winger Paul Canoville in which they spoke about their experiences with racism in football. This week there was news that Canoville is critically ill in hospital due to complications which set in following emergency surgery.
‘I have known Paul for a while and he has known my family well throughout the years and when I found out the news that he is in hospital it shocked me, because I was speaking to him a couple of days before,’ Hudson-Odoi said.
‘I am sad that he can’t watch our games and see how everyone is doing as a team and I wish him a speedy recovery. Prayers to him and all his family and hopefully he is back out there watching us again really soon. Everybody here is thinking of him and praying that he gets better soon.’
Racism has been raising its ugly head again of late, including abuse on social media aimed at Hudson-Odoi’s team-mate James. The club has supported James on this and information has been passed on to the police for investigation, and it led to Roman Abramovich taking the unprecedented step of writing to all the Chelsea players to emphasis how appalled he is by the abuse, and inform them there will be increased funding to tackle the problem.
‘It is amazing to know that the owner is reaching out to all of us and to know that he is trying to do something about it as well because it is unacceptable,’ said Hudson-Odoi.
‘When we receive abuse on social media we all stick together because it is a sport we all love to play in and when we are receiving stuff like that, it is embarrassing to us to know we are playing our hearts out and playing as much as possible to win games and if we don’t win or do something wrong, we will receive bad things from other people.
‘So it is good to see that the owner is trying to sort something out as soon as possible but certainly social media needs to step up and do something about it as well, because it is very easy to go on social media and write something hateful to somebody and without anything being done about it.
‘So that needs to get sorted as quick as possible and hopefully things get resolved so we can all enjoy football.’