Set two teams of ultra-competitive top-level footballers against each other in any challenge and one thing is for certain – everyone wants to win badly!
And so it was at the end of one of the training sessions in Ireland when a goalscoring game had a hotly disputed result.
The basic task was for each player in turn to throw a ball to a team-mate who had to try to score with a header. Regardless of the outcome, after the attempt he had to quickly become the next goalkeeper to repel the other team’s next attempt. And so it went on.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek takes up the story…
‘The first to five won and the other team to mine won the first round, fair enough,’ he reports. ‘Then we won the other round so it was all-square, so the next game wins it.
‘I was sure we then scored five, I was counting, but others said that was a mistake and apparently we did not score five.
‘Cal Callum Hudson-Odoi, who is standing nearby and was on Ruben’s team] said he was not sure, and he did not really celebrate, but the rest of us all went off celebrating before it was hold on, hold on, let’s have a VAR check.’
The midfielder confirms this was a first at training and standing in for Stockley Park were Chelsea’s video analysis team who as usual, were recording all of training from a high vantage point.
Crowded below there while the video was studied were all the players eagerly awaiting the verdict.
‘When it went to VAR and they said it was five, we went nuts!’ smiles Ruben.
For the distraught losing side there was a penalty to pay – they had to sing a Backstreet Boys or Spice Girls song at dinner that night, although whether what was warbled resembled either is a debatable point.