Alfie Gilchrist spoke of his 'surreal' experience after claiming Chelsea Men's Academy Player of the Year at the club's end of season awards ceremony on Tuesday.

The 2023/24 campaign has been a breakout season for the versatile defender, after making the successful graduation from our academy squad to the first team set-up.

The boyhood Blue began the season with our under-21s squad, captaining the side in the 6-1 win over Blackburn Rovers on the opening day of the Premier League 2 season.

Gilchrist's rise since has been impressive, with a first team bow against Crystal Palace coming in the penultimate game of 2023 just four months later.

A full debut was to follow in the New Year with the youngster starting in our 4-0 FA Cup third round win against Preston North End as he continued to flourish following the step-up to men's football.

Most memorably, a dream first goal at Stamford Bridge arrived in our 6-0 win over Everton last month and Gilchrist followed it up with an exceptional performance against London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

The Blues defender has made 17 senior appearances in all competition in 2023/24 and last night saw his impressive campaign recognised at the end of season awards.

'It’s a surreal moment for me really,' he said. 'Coming from the academy, these are the awards that you look at.

'When people get them in the academy you know it’s a big achievement so to get it myself – I’m very proud.

'My family and friends are delighted and equally proud as well, it’s a special moment.'

Gilchrist has taken every chance afforded this season and has continued to earn minutes on the pitch recently, in our wins over Spurs and West Ham.

He also signed a new contract with the club last month that will keep him at the Bridge until 2026, with a one-year extension option included.

Having worked his way up through the ranks at Cobham, our No.42 now wants to hold down his place as a valuable member of Mauricio Pochettino's squad.

And rather than basking in the glory of a whirlwind six months, Gilchrist said he will instead use the award to fuel his fire going forward.

'It’s motivation for the future now and it’s nice to get something to show what I’ve done this season.

'I just want to keep going and keep pushing like always.'