Mason Mount netted his first senior goal for Chelsea against Leicester City, but when did some of the other Academy graduates in and around our current first-team squad open their accounts for the men’s team?
It took Mount until just seven minutes into his home debut at Stamford Bridge to open the scoring against the Foxes, a moment he described as a ‘dream come true’.
However, this season’s young Blues squad features several other players who have come through the Academy at Cobham, as well as members of Frank Lampard’s coaching staff who started their playing careers in the Chelsea youth system, before finding the net for the club they grew up with.
The most experienced Academy graduate currently in the squad is Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who made his senior debut back in December 2014 and scored his first goal the following season. Just over a year after coming off the bench in that Champions League win over Sporting Lisbon, it was also as a substitute that he made his first impression on the score sheet.
Guus Hiddink brought the midfielder on for Oscar at half-time against Scunthorpe United in the FA Cup third round at Stamford Bridge, with his team leading 1-0 through Diego Costa’s early effort. Loftus-Cheek had an important impact on the game, too, with his energy in midfield helping to stifle our League One opponents’ attempt at a fightback either side of the break, before ending it completely when he met Cesar Azpilicueta’s low cross at the near post and powered the ball into the back of the net to double our lead.
There are plenty of parallels between Callum Hudson-Odoi’s first senior goal and those of his team-mates. Like Loftus-Cheek, he eased his way into first-team duties with a handful of substitute appearances before getting his first goal the next season, and like Mount he scored on his first start at Stamford Bridge.
That came in last term’s victorious Europa League campaign, being named in the starting line-up for only the second time, after the season-opening Community Shield defeat to Manchester City, when we hosted PAOK in the group stage in November.
The teenage winger had already given the Greek side fair warning when he hit crossbar from 25 yards, between Olivier Giroud’s two first-half goals, before finding the back of the net in the second half when he ran at the PAOK back line and caught the keeper out at the near post with a precise finish. He then turned provider by supplying the cross for Alvaro Morata to complete the scoring in a 4-0 victory.
The likes of Mount, Loftus-Cheek and Hudson-Odoi have plenty of people around them on Chelsea’s coaching staff who have been through similar experiences, with both assistant head coach Jody Morris and assistant coach Eddie Newton coming through the youth set-up at Chelsea before scoring for the first team. However, unlike their young charges, that duo got their first goals away from home.
For Morris that was on his second start for the club, in the first leg of a League Cup second-round tie at Blackpool in September 1996. The home side took a surprise lead inside the first minute through James Quinn, but our 17-year-old midfielder popped up to equalise and make sure that deficit lasted just 15 minutes. After being played through by John Spencer, Morris showed great composure to control the ball and flick it over the keeper with the outside of his boot.
Further strikes by Spencer, Dan Petrescu and Mark Hughes made it a comfortable victory on the night, but Blackpool launched a fightback at the Bridge in the second leg, meaning in the end we narrowly scraped through 5-4 on aggregate.
Perhaps surprisingly for a player known more for his intelligent midfield play and selfless work ethic than goal scoring, it took Newton less than 25 minutes of action to find the net on his senior debut for Chelsea. With the exception of the six he got in a fantastic first full season at the top level, Newton never scored more than once in a campaign.
However, the last game of the 1991/92 season had already proved to be a day for surprises, as Ken Monkou had been given the only red card of his Chelsea career, on his last appearance no less, in the first half. Even more bizarrely, it came when the referee failed to see the funny side of a light-hearted moment between the Dutch defender and Everton’s Peter Beardsley, and gave Monkou his marching orders despite the protests of his opponent. It should be noted Beardsley had no qualms about slotting home the penalty, though, which didn’t go down well with the Chelsea players judging by the way Vinnie Jones flattened him while retrieving the ball afterwards.
Newton came off the bench for Graeme Le Saux in a reshuffle shortly after half-time, but couldn’t prevent the Toffees going two ahead, meaning his strike in the 72nd minute was only a consolation. Which is a shame, because it was a belter. With a knocked-down long ball bouncingly awkwardly outside the box, Newton showed great technique to get over the ball and fire it into the far corner with a half-volley. Not a bad introduction to the senior game.
That might well not be the end of the matter either. With the likes of Tammy Abraham, Reece James and Fikayo Tomori in the first-team squad this season, hopefully there will be a more goals to add to this list between now and the end of May.