James on inspirations new and old

Reece James explains why he is loving playing for Thomas Tuchel and idolised Didier Drogba as a youngster in the Chelsea Academy.

After being an unused substitute in Tuchel’s first game as our head coach, James has featured in every match since as we have clocked up five wins in a row. While he admits that it wasn’t easy adapting to a new manager’s style of play and tactics quickly mid-season, the results speak for themselves and he is enjoying life playing for the German.

‘We’ve had to work hard as a team and get to know the new manager and his style of play very quickly,’ explained James. ‘He’s made that quite evident and clear and I think we’ve picked it up well and I think that shows in our results.

‘He’s a very experienced manager and he’s managed top teams of very good players and he’s helping us all progress significantly since the start.

‘So far I’ve loved every second playing under him. I think he’s a great manager and a very good man-to-man manager as well. He comes and speaks to you all the time just to make sure you’re both on the same page.’

While Tuchel has been inspiring James and his team-mates in the Blues senior side to victory over the last month, the right-back also discussed a Blues legend he looked up to as a he was starting his journey in our Academy.

‘My hero growing up was Didier Drogba,’ he said. ‘I supported Chelsea and I was a striker when I was younger so I always looked up to him because he was the man in my position.

‘I tried to look up to him and do everything the way he did it, even his goal celebrations. When I was young and I scored, that was the celebration I used to do. When you’re young you look up to the person you idolise the most and try to be like them.

‘I met him when I was about eight. I came into the building at Cobham to meet the first-team players and he gave me a signed pair of boots. I’ve still got them at my house now!

‘My favourite Drogba moment was probably the Champions League final, when he scored in the dying seconds of the game. That was one of the highlights of his career here, and obviously scoring the winning penalty as well.’

Unfortunately, having been one of several footballers to have suffered appalling racist abuse online recently, James also had more serious issues to discuss. The 21-year-old admitted he was shocked by the abuse he received and made it clear that more needs to be done to address the issue, especially on social media.

‘It’s terrible that it still happens and I received the messages I received. It made me very upset and angry when I got them. I thought the world, in these things, was improving, but I think I was wrong.

‘We can do a lot more to help put an end to it. I think people just kind of brush it under the carpet when it happens. It’s bad for one week, then once it’s died down in the press it just goes back to normal.

‘I think the media platforms can do more. When anything happens on social media, like Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, anything like that, they should be able to help track the person and go from there.’