‘The Premier League is everything I hoped it would be and more. It’s one of the most competitive leagues in the world, if not the best, and there are a lot of pressures but I’ve been enjoying the ride so much.'
Christian Pulisic is back in London and eager to get back to training as soon as the authorities decide it is safe to do so. He feels fit after taking time to recover from the muscle injury that sidelined him from New Year’s Day and has come to terms with that ‘tough and frustrating’ period, which culminated in him edging closer to a return before football was curtailed due to the global public health crisis.
After spending lockdown with his family in Pennsylvania, the American has had time to reflect on his first season in the Premier League and is clearly relishing the constant challenge of testing himself on such a global stage.
It is easy to forget that he’s still only 21 years old, such is his experience in European football already after four years playing in the Bundesliga, though he admits swapping Germany for England has certainly lived up to his expectations so far.
‘The Premier League is everything I hoped it would be and more,’ said Pulisic this week. ‘It’s a lot to take in, especially in the first year, with the amount of games and everything that goes on, but I’m getting used to the schedule now.
‘It’s one of the most competitive leagues in the world, if not the best, and there are a lot of pressures but I’ve been enjoying the ride so much. I’ve learnt so much in this first year and I’m looking forward to getting back to it.’
Pulisic had just navigated the famously hectic English winter period when the first significant stumbling block of his Chelsea career arrived. He came off just after the hour mark in our 1-1 draw at Brighton at the start of January, though it was a few days later in training when he sustained what Frank Lampard described at the time as ‘quite a nasty injury.’
The niggling issue to a tendon in his adductor, a muscle in the upper thigh or groin area, has proved troublesome to shake off and our number 22 claims it was a more serious problem than he had first anticipated.
‘I didn’t take it as seriously as I think I should have,’ he admitted. ‘It was one of those you felt you could do a lot of things but you try to push it that one extra step and realise it’s not ready yet.
‘It was very tough and frustrating going through times like that. I underestimated it and tried to get back as soon as I could because I just wanted to play so bad.
‘If anything, I’ve given myself a little more time to rest now and make sure that I’m 100 per cent fit. I’d say I’m fully recovered and ready to go as soon as we get back.’
That will be welcome news to Chelsea fans desperate to see him back out on the pitch continuing what has been a promising maiden season in the Premier League. Following his Turf Moor hat-trick in October, the wideman netted further goals against Watford, Crystal Palace and Valencia, as well as chipping in with half a dozen assists, taking his goal contribution ratio to roughly one every two games.
The evening in Burnley, however, understandably sticks out as his best memory in a blue shirt so far.
‘It was my first start in a little while so I just had this motivation to go out and prove a lot of people wrong,’ Pulisic recalls. 'I felt I’d done okay up to that point but I hadn’t really shown everything that I could do so going into that game, I did have a chip on my shoulder.
‘Once that first goal came, my confidence shot through the roof and it was just my day after that, everything kept falling for me. It was incredible. I’ll never forget coming home after that and just sitting down and looking back on what had just happened.
‘I was so proud being able to talk to my family back home and people that had been watching. It wasn’t just the hat-trick but scoring, helping the team win and having a great game – there’s no better feeling.’
Football feelings are on hold for now as global attention turns to dealing with the devastating threat of coronavirus. Like many of his Chelsea team-mates, Pulisic has been playing his part in his local community back home in the US, donating to the Feeding America relief organisation that supports over 60,000 food banks across the country.
Working alongside the food chain Chipotle, he has also helped to provide free meals to nurses working at the Hershey hospital where he was born.
‘With Feeding America, it’s amazing what they do for our country and how many people who are struggling for meals that they help,’ he said. ‘I have this amazing platform where I can help people with that.
‘It’s been awesome for me to help in any way that I can because I know so many people are putting a lot of work in right now. With Chipotle, we’ve been able to help out at my local hospital and put some smiles on their faces because they’re working so hard right now, they’re putting themselves at risk and they’re doing such an incredible job.
‘I haven’t been able to go down to the hospital in person unfortunately at this time but I’ve been able to do some things on video calls and I’m hoping after all this I’ll be able to see their smiles in person.’
After spending some time in his hometown with his family, Pulisic is back in London awaiting any decisions that are made regarding the return to training. While the capital might be operating slightly differently than normal for the time being, he is relishing life in the big city right now.
‘Coming from a smaller town and now being in London, it’s amazing for me,’ he added. ‘There’s so much to do and so much you can get out to try. It’s been great for me to take my mind off things and enjoy my time here. It’s an incredible city and the culture is awesome so I’m definitely loving it.’
Click here for Pulisic merchandise from the official Chelsea Megastore