Opportunities to influence matters on the pitch might be few and far between for Marcus Bettinelli, but our third-choice goalkeeper is embracing his behind-the-scenes responsibilities as one of the more experienced heads in a young dressing room. Our matchday programme recently caught up with the 31-year-old to find out how he is doing whatever he can to offer support to the squad.

You can learn a lot about a footballer by watching them when the cameras aren’t focused on them. At the end of our last-gasp FA Cup fifth round win over Leeds United here a few weeks back, the players walked around the outskirts of the pitch applauding and celebrating with our supporters, while three smiling figures waited by the tunnel to see them off the field with sportsman’s handshakes and pats on the back.

There was Mauricio Pochettino, the proud manager, stood alongside Reece James, the injured captain, and then the last man down the tunnel, after he had met every single player with an arm round the shoulder and a kind word, was Marcus Bettinelli. Our third-choice goalkeeper doesn’t find himself in the spotlight much but, stood behind the dugout at the end of that game, his actions stood out. There was an aspect of quiet leadership about his demeanour, something almost protective about the way he waited and then sealed off the line of players walking down the tunnel to the home dressing room at the end of their night’s work.

It’s interesting to see how players view their role not just on a football pitch but within the squad dynamic, and it feels as though Bettinelli has embraced his behind-the-scenes responsibilities wholeheartedly this season.

‘I’m older than a lot of the lads, so I try and take that responsibility,’ Betts explains, ‘and I feel like I’ve always been a good team player – that’s just something that I do. When the lads are coming in after a hard game – win, lose or draw – someone’s there to meet them and say “Well done.”

‘Usually, I wait for Djordje or Rob to come in, and they’re usually the last to come in, hence the reason I’m waiting. But I really enjoy my role, I enjoy being a leader, I’m quite a vocal guy, so I enjoy being that person, and though I may not be playing, I can still have an influence on the lads.’

While the players were making their way round the stands towards the tunnel that evening, Pochettino noticed James and Bettinelli stood to his side and pulled them in for a group hug and a few words in that avuncular manner of his. It showed how much he appreciates those leaders in the dressing room being there to congratulate their team-mates despite not being involved on the night. Bettinelli agrees that he always has squad morale at the front of his mind as he goes about his day-to-day work.

‘Yeah, absolutely,’ he states. ‘When I first joined, as a third-choice goalkeeper, you are very much focused on trying to get the goalkeepers motivated and prepared right for the game.

‘This season, I think my role has changed slightly, as it’s quite a young squad and we’ve obviously had quite a lot of injuries and stuff. I’ve definitely taken on more of a senior role with the outfield players as well in that sense and I’ve really enjoyed it. But I’ve always been there for the lads, win lose or draw, and I’ve always tried to keep morale up and keep the lads energised.’

It isn’t just a feeling either, as there are tangible responsibilities the 31-year-old has taken on. ‘Azpi was PFA rep for the club and I’ve stepped into that role this year,’ he explains.

‘While Reece and Chilly have the captaincy and vice-captaincy, they’ve asked me to step into that role, which I’ve done, and it’s good. When we have been to see the gaffer, it’s been me, Reece and Chilly together.

‘I’ve got a really good relationship with the gaffer, we speak on a daily basis. I’ve got a lot of respect for him and he’s got a lot of respect for me.

‘He’s a great man, so it’s nice that we have that relationship and we have that trust, where we can come to each other and I can go and see him and ask about certain things with days off or training, and stuff like that.’

‘I’ve loved it here so far,’ says Betts of his time at Chelsea. ‘When I first joined, the realisation of playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world hit me when I walked in the building.

‘I still feel like that now – we’ve obviously gone through a really difficult transition period, I think we’re still finding our way, on and off the pitch, but I think we’re close. We’ve shown glimpses this season of how well we can do on the pitch, so it’s an exciting time.

‘I’ve loved every minute of my time here – being involved in finals and Club World Cups, playing with some of the best players in the world. It’s all I’ve ever dreamed of. I joined in the role of third choice knowing that I wasn’t going to play that much, and I thought I might miss it, but because I get to play in training every day, I don’t miss it as much as I thought I would do. I’ve absolutely loved it, and I hope that continues.’

Read the full interview with Marcus in the matchday programme, which you can purchase by clicking here.