Mason Mount has revealed he has been following Billy Gilmour’s progress for a long time and would be delighted to see his good friend in the opposition line-up when England face Scotland in Euro 2020 today.
It is the fixture many fans of both countries have been eagerly anticipating ever since the draw for this summer’s delayed European Championship was first made back in November 2019, even if they had to wait another year before Scotland were confirmed as the fourth team in Group D by beating Serbia in their play-off final.
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As if the meeting of those two oldest of international football rivals at a major tournament for the first time since 1996 wasn’t exciting enough, the match was given an added potential interest for those who follow Chelsea when young midfielder Gilmour was named in Scotland’s Euros squad and made his senior debut against the Netherlands shortly before the competition began. That is in addition to Mount, Reece James and Ben Chilwell all being included in the England squad, meaning there could be four Blues in action at Wembley this evening.
Gilmour’s selection by Scottish boss Steve Clarke, himself a former Chelsea player and coach, is just the latest step in a dramatic rise for the young midfielder, who turned 20 on the day Euro 2020 began and only made his first league start at senior level 15 months ago, and it is a journey Mount has followed closely.
‘Billy’s a brilliant player,’ said Mount. ‘I was always interested in his development and obviously seeing him make the step up and playing in the first team and seeing how well he’s been doing, it’s been brilliant to see.
‘I’ve known him for a long time, since he first joined Chelsea. I met him when he first joined, and then I went out on loan and he was playing in the youth teams, but I always tried to keep an eye on him and what he was doing because he was a young midfielder coming through that I’d heard a lot about.’
Gilmour has become a popular member of the first-team squad at Cobham, with Mount confirming the friendship among the Chelsea players will cross the divide of that international rivalry.
‘I’m very close with him, along with Chilly as well,’ he added. ‘We’re close and he’s doing really well and I’m obviously looking forward to playing against him.’
Mount isn’t the only Blues player in the England squad that Gilmour has made a big impression on, either, as Reece James believes the 20-year-old from the small Scottish coastal town of Ardrossan is one of the most promising talents around.
‘Billy is one of the best young lads coming through at Chelsea and one of the best young lads coming through in the world as well,’ said James. ‘He’s a great lad and I think that his ability speaks for itself.’
It remains to be seen if Gilmour will get the nod from Clarke to make his first competitive international appearance against England tonight, or indeed how many of his club-mates will be in the Three Lions line-up, but if Billy does play at Wembley it is safe to say his fellow Blues will have plenty of respect for his talents despite that lack of experience.