Chelsea Under-18s return to action in the FA Youth Cup on Wednesday 18 December at Kingsmeadow, with tickets available online at just £3 for adults and £1 for concessions.
Competition captain Tino Anjorin – who scored in the second leg of the triumphant 2018 final – expressed his delight to see the return of the prestigious competition.
‘I’m buzzing to be back in the Youth Cup’, Anjorin told the official Chelsea website. ‘Two years ago, winning it with Jody Morris and Ed Brand made memories that will stay with me forever and we want to make them again.
‘Last year, unfortunately we didn’t have the opportunity to do so and we were knocked out by a good Man United side, but this year we want to make Chelsea the winners again.’
The class of 2018 matched the long-standing competition record of winning five Youth Cup tournaments in a row, set by the 'Busby Babes' between 1953 and 1957, and also moved one away from Man United's all-time record of 10 Youth Cup titles. The 18-year-old believes records like the one Chelsea equalled last year is the reason why the competition is held in such high regard and is so special for clubs.
‘It’s special because of the history of the Youth Cup and how many years it’s been around for,’ Anjorin added. ‘The Busby Babes and their record stand out especially because we’ve got the chance to match another Manchester United record and make Chelsea’s Academy the greatest academy in history.’
The England Under-19 youth international has been part of two FA Youth Cup campaigns but has fond memories of his maiden season when he scored three goals in his six appearances.
He especially remembers the second leg of the final at the end of the 2018 campaign when his goal condemned Arsenal to defeat, ensuring the Blues lifted their ninth Youth Cup trophy, and lists what a team needs to be successful in the competition.
‘That was a mad feeling, because I was a younger player in the team,’ he recalled. ‘I was playing up with Callum [Hudson-Odoi], Dujon Sterling and Reece James. Playing with those guys was an experience in itself but then winning the cup and scoring in the final topped it all off. The Emirates is a big stadium where historic moments have happened and to say that I’ve scored at that stadium is massive.
‘A successful team needs a good rotational squad and a good morale around the team,’ listed the midfielder. ‘A good run in the FA Youth Cup will have everyone buzzing, happy and enjoying being involved whether they are starting or not. I wasn’t starting for the team in the year we won it but I was still so happy to be involved and just around the team - good morale is important.’
Brand’s team boast an unbeaten record in all competitions since April and sit top of the Under-18 Premier League southern section so that form is a good confidence-booster ahead of Huddersfield’s visit to Kingsmeadow, captain Anjorin states.
‘The league form is massive for confidence, especially for the first-year scholars that didn’t get the opportunity to play last year,' he adds. 'This year they’ll get the opportunity to play in the FA Youth Cup and it will be a special moment for them and hopefully they can bring their league confidence into the cup, strengthening our squad even more.
‘It’s a huge, huge honour to be captain, especially because of the history of the competition. To say I will captain our team and hopefully go out and win it will be special'.
-You can support Ed Brand's team begin their hunt for Chelsea's 10th FA Youth Cup title at Kingsmeadow on Wednesday 18 December, kick-off 7pm. Tickets are available online at £3 for adults and £1 for concessions (under-20s and over-60s), or can be purchased on the gate at Kingsmeadow from 5.30pm.
The game will also be screened live on this website and the 5th Stand app.