After catching the eye again in last weekend’s game, Trevoh Chalobah talks about his time in France, playing in front of Thomas Tuchel there, and his team-mates that spurred him on…
If Trevoh Chalobah is involved in the match against Norwich today then it will be the second Saturday running he will see Premier League action against one of the newly promoted sides.
However just because the Canaries and Brentford came up from the Championship last season, it does not mean they approach games the same way and set defenders similar challenges, and Chalobah believes the development pathway he has taken stands him in good stead for whatever football style he faces.
The now 22-year-old has Championship experience himself after loans at Ipswich and Huddersfield although those were relegation fights rather than promotions seasons. The second was successful in survival, the first not so. After that, last season, he played in France’s Ligue 1 at Lorient.
‘For me my loans have been successful because I got the games and the experience I needed,’ decides Chalobah as he looks back.
‘When you're down there fighting relegation, people think you're not doing so well but for me, I played almost every game everywhere I have been on loan.
‘With Ipswich and Huddersfield it was a big test to go from Under-23s football into Championship football. I was playing against top players but I adapted well in my two seasons in the Championship and then, for my third loan going to Lorient, I wanted to go there because it's a different country, away from the family, you have to go at it 100 per cent and you've got to learn as well.
‘It's a different style of football and as soon as the opportunity came I was ready to go, because I knew what a tough league it is and if I did well, it would be a big step for me. So I went with 100 per-cent full focus.’
While playing in France, there was a chance to catch the attention of Thomas Tuchel for the first time when Lorient travelled to PSG. Although the game was lost 2-0, Chalobah came on at half-time and was pleased with his performance. He also played well and the outcome was better when Lorient won the reverse fixture 3-2, but by then Tuchel had left and was Chelsea manager.
‘I always knew I could play at a high level,’ he says. ‘I had played in the Championship for two seasons and I'm thinking I need a new challenge. Obviously it is a risk going abroad. You’re away from a comfortable environment. I knew I was good enough but I did have in the back of my mind that I need to make sure I do everything, I need to be focused, I need to be playing games.
‘But at the same time I was very confident going there. I knew the ability I had and that is what I want to showcase. When I went over there, I adapted quickly and playing against big European clubs, Champions League clubs, and playing against PSG and winning that game, it was an unbelievable experience.’
Chalobah reveals that watching players like Reece James, Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori in the Chelsea men’s first team while he was in France, and the season before when at Huddersfield, spurred him on.
‘Having played with them for so many years, me watching them gave me the motivation to know I can be there as well. It gave me the motivation to work even harder and that gave me the chance.
‘A lot of young players are going abroad now as it is something different, you are playing against something you would not be used to. It is good to test your ability and your mental state as well.’