In the first of our daily features looking at each of our League Cup winning sides in detail ahead of Sunday's Carabao Cup final, midfielder John Boyle recalls his whirlwind start to life in senior football as he went from the youth team to starting in Chelsea’s first-ever League Cup final win in the space of just a few months in 1965.

To give due credit to the incredible story of John Boyle’s role in Chelsea lifting the League Cup trophy for the first time in our history – and only the second piece of major silverware of any kind the club had claimed to that point – you have to go back a bit earlier than the final to when it all began.

Only a few months earlier, though. When Boyle celebrated his 18th birthday on Christmas Day 1964, having recently signed his first professional contract and looking ahead to a promising FA Youth Cup campaign as part of a strong Chelsea youth team, he could have had little idea what the start of the year would hold for him.

Within a month he was handed his senior debut by fellow Scot and Chelsea manager Tommy Docherty. In the days before substitutes it was no cameo in a low-pressure game to ease him in, either. It was straight into the starting line-up for the first leg of our League Cup semi-final away at Aston Villa.

What an introduction for Boyle it was too. After Villa had equalised for the second time in the game in the 82nd minute, it was the teenager debutant who went straight up the other end to net the winner a minute later, giving us a lead which would ultimately send us to the final after a 1-1 draw in the second leg. It was the first of 12 goals he would score in 266 games for Chelsea.

‘I just had an amazing few months,’ recalls Boyle, who is still a regular at the Bridge, sharing his memories with supporters in the hospitality areas on matchdays. ‘I came in for the semi-final and scored the winning goal. I can still remember when I scored Terry Venables was the first to run up and grabbed me, saying: “John, I’m so pleased for you”.

‘Then I played at Leeds when they were top of the league and we were second, then when we beat the holders West Ham in the FA Cup. So in my first 10 days I played in the League Cup, the league and the FA Cup.

‘That week was crazy. I played against Fulham’s reserves on the Saturday, on the Sunday I went to Scotland for my mum and dad’s wedding anniversary, but also played in a Scottish youth trial on the Monday night. I came home on Tuesday and Tommy Docherty told me I was going to Aston Villa for the game on Wednesday.

‘I played and scored there, came back to London on Thursday and then went to Leeds on Friday, played there in a great game, a 2-2 draw. I think I slept in five different beds that week.’

That gruelling schedule was no doubt eased by the prospect of being involved in plenty more big games to come, as Chelsea remained in the hunt for silverware on three fronts as we entered the first leg of the League Cup final against Leicester City in March.

‘We were in the final of the League Cup, the semi-finals of the FA Cup and top of the league at the time, so we had a decent chance of winning trophies. I was actually in the youth team and we were in the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup as well, so I was going for the four of them!

‘For me that time was crazy but great fun. We were just playing football all the time. I still hadn’t lost a game. It wasn’t until my 10th match, the first one after we won the League Cup, that we lost 3-2 at West Ham. There was a piece in the paper where they called me Chelsea’s lucky mascot!’

And so into the final itself, which was then a two-legged affair, played home and away. The young Boyle had retained his place in the starting line-up as we began in west London and, like most who were fortunate enough to be at Stamford Bridge for that game, his memories of the day are dominated by Eddie McCreadie’s late winning goal.

It is often referred to as “the greatest goal you’ll never see”, because the absence of TV cameras at the Bridge mean to this day the only people to have witnessed it are those who were there in person.

With the scores tied at 2-2 McCreadie – usually a left-back but operating as a makeshift striker due to an injury to Barry Bridges – picked up the ball deep inside his own half and took off, running upfield. And kept running, all the way to the opposition box, past several defenders, before poking a finish past legendary England goalkeeper Gordon Banks.

However, Boyle’s eye-witness account suggests it may have had more to do with McCreadie’s sheer force of will, and even the notoriously poor eyesight which had him wearing thick glasses off the pitch, than a display of silky skill, implying the scorer might not have seen much of the goal himself.

‘The League Cup final was two legs and in the first leg you have to win your home game. For me it doesn’t matter what the score is, as long as you win your leg you’ve got a chance. We did and of course that game just reminds me of that Eddie McCreadie goal.

‘I saw it well, I was behind him in the sort of left-half position just outside the 18-yard box. He started and then he just kept on going. With his eyes he bumped into about five people on his way!

‘We always had a laugh about it with a comparison to when Ossie [Peter Osgood] scored a goal like it at Burnley a couple of years later, saying if they were slalom skiers going down the slopes, Ossie swerved by five players and the goalkeeper to put it in the net, but Eddie McCreadie hit every flag on the way down.

‘I’m absolutely sure Eddie would tell it a bit differently, about how he dribbled around everyone with a few dummies! I was watching and just shouting “go on Eddie, keep going”. And he did, he just kept going through everyone.’

With no evidence of the goal remaining, we’ll have to leave you to make up your own minds which is the more accurate description. Either way, that goal gave us a narrow lead to defend at Filbert Street, and defend it we did, valiantly. Far from the five-goal thriller at the Bridge, on the road the Blues shut up shop to finish the job with a 0-0 draw.

According to Boyle, the ability of a young team, with an average age of 22 years and one month, to play like a far more mature side owed much to manager Docherty’s eagerness to pit his side against top foreign sides from far and wide in a series of friendlies, taking lessons onboard from other countries’ footballing philosophies.

‘We were 3-2 up and in the second leg we just went up there and played like we’d learned to play when we played abroad, which Tommy Doc had us doing a lot. They hardly got a chance in the second leg and that was it.

‘A few weeks before that final we played the West German national team in Germany. We played them on the Tuesday night and then beat Spurs on the Saturday in the FA Cup, but we picked up the more defensive way some of the foreign teams played and were able to copy it at Leicester.

‘There wasn’t much celebration, though. We were already thinking about winning another trophy and the league game against West Ham the next week. The games were coming thick and fast.

'Plus the League Cup hadn’t become as big yet, it had only started four years earlier and people were still getting their heads around it as a competition.’

During the course of the interview, it is put to Boyle that no matter how much Chelsea has grown as a club, no matter how many records have been broken in the years since he lifted the League Cup trophy in Leicester, as the first to do so for the Blues his place in the club’s history books will always be secure.

However, he quickly points out that in fact his own club record from that day still remains unmatched almost 60 years later.

‘I actually still have a claim to fame from that final,’ he explains. ‘I don’t know if it will change this week, but I’m still the youngest player to play for Chelsea in the League Cup final [18 years, 80 days], just younger than Callum Hudson-Odoi [18 years, 109 days].’

His club record and the tankards the players were presented with instead of medals for winning the League Cup in those early years weren’t the only prize Boyle received that day, either. Much like Mauricio Pochettino’s Blues in 2024, the chance to lift silverware had added motivation by providing a route for European qualification.

This year that is via the Europa Conference League, in 1965 it was one of that competition’s ancestor the Fairs Cup, which saw us go on a memorable run to the semi-finals, providing historic wins over the likes of Roma, AC Milan and Barcelona.

‘The best thing about the League Cup for me was that it made sure we had a place in Europe. You couldn’t put a price on that for me.

‘I think that was the real beginning of things for that Chelsea team. I ended up playing in the San Siro and the Nou Camp the next season, it opened up a whole new world for me.’

And kick-started an exciting time at Stamford Bridge, as that young Blues side continued to evolve and mature, to go on and add the club’s first FA Cup triumph and European trophy – the Cup Winners’ Cup – in the years which followed.

Boyle, who will be among the Chelsea supporters in the stands at Wembley on Sunday to see the current generation attempt to join him on the League Cup roll of honour, would be only too happy to see history repeated with a first trophy of the new era heralding more success to come.

‘The Chelsea team I played in had been together a couple of years when we won the League Cup, and had an average age of 21 sometimes, I can absolutely see similarities.

‘They will have ups and downs while they gel together as a team, just like we did, but if they can win one of the cups this year, have a good pre-season and keep moving forward into next season they will be good to go, because they can all play. It’s Chelsea and we all love them and want it to happen for them.’