In our look at the latest Chelsea-related news stories from the media, Michael Emenalo reveals he had to battle to keep our Academy open, Ruben Loftus-Cheek discusses the difficulties he has faced in his recovery from injury and Dominic Solanke believes ex-Chelsea team-mate Tammy Abraham is ready to make an impact on the international stage for England.
These stories are samples pulled from external media sources. They do not represent the views or position of Chelsea Football Club.
Emanelo takes pride in Academy success
In an in-depth interview with the Telegraph, former Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo has spoken about his battle to keep the Academy operating and the pride he takes in the success of its graduates.
Emanelo, who spent a decade at the club from 2007 to 2017, revealed the challenges he faced to keep the Academy running with one unnamed manager even recommending the owner should scale back his investment in it.
‘I defended the Academy when there was pressure and doubt and pessimism,’ said Emenalo.
‘There was a time when there was a clamour to do more and a manager came in to make a presentation to say the Academy was not necessary. The argument was it takes too long, we don’t have time, we should use it to make some money here and there, and that the owner should stop pumping money into it because it seemed like a waste.‘But that wasn’t my idea and I had to fight against it. This is where I am very, very proud of the owner Roman Abramovich because of the trust he had in me and the willingness to listen to me and give the Academy time. He would not abandon it. He believed in it and in me, and I can’t thank him enough for that.’
Emenalo, who is taking a break from football after leaving Monaco in August, is delighted to see the hard work of the Academy paying off with the successful integration of Academy graduates like Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Fikayo Tomori into the senior team.
‘When you implement a policy, you expect it to work,’ he said. ‘But sometimes the timing or how it is going to work is not so sure.
‘What’s happened with these boys, you can only feel pride. Not just for the boys, but I'm thankful for the effort of a lot of people – coaches and staff, people at the academy, the first-team scouting and loan departments, secretaries, all these people who have had a lot of input into all of these boys succeeding.
‘The policy was always to have the players grow together and to grow the culture. You get a real culture of boys who understand and care about the club. Look at the celebration at Southampton. The first two who arrived to Tammy were Mount and Hudson-Odoi. Then when Mount scored, it was Tammy and Hudson-Odoi.
‘You build a really, really wonderful football culture. A Chelsea culture and this is where identities come from and these guys will play and care for this club for years and years and years to come. It’s amazing what is unfolding.’
Loftus-Cheek on the road to recovery
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has spoken about the challenges he has faced in recovering from a serious Achilles injury and his determination to get back into action for the Blues.
In an interview with a personal sponsor, which has been published by a number of media organisations including TalkSport and Goal.com, the 23-year-old revealed the extent of the injury he suffered last May.
‘I’ve had to learn to walk again,” said the England midfielder. ‘As soon as I came out of my cast, I could barely lift my heel off the ground in a sitting position.
‘To lift my leg up took maximum effort. With a big injury it’s really hard, you don’t see a difference every day, you don’t wake up and think it’s a lot better every morning, it’s over a period of time. It’s more exciting the closer I get to making my comeback, the more I keep pushing. I will be there soon.’
Loftus-Cheek admitted the mental aspect of recovering from a long-term injury is especially tough.
‘The big side of injuries is the mental side of it, so I had to stay positive and keep the right mindset. Even a tweet or a message from a fan makes a big difference to me,’ he said.
‘I’ve actually had a few setbacks that have put me behind which has been quite frustrating to be honest. Before I got injured I was playing my best football. I’ve missed feeling tired from running, from hard work, that feeling of being in a game again.
‘I’ve only just got pain free but for sure I’m going to come back stronger, sharper and do whatever I can to be in better shape.’
Solanke feels Abraham is ready to step up
Bournemouth forward Dominic Solanke believes his former Chelsea team-mate Tammy Abraham is ready to step up and become an England squad regular, the Evening Standard reports.
The attacking pair developed a strong understanding while playing for Chelsea’s Academy teams and Solanke feels Abraham has the quality to be a top international striker.
‘Is Abraham ready to step up? Yeah you can see what he is doing,’ Solanke said.
‘He has had a fantastic start to the season and is doing what he is doing for Chelsea so hopefully he can take that onto the international stage as well.’
Solanke, who signed for Bournemouth early this year, hopes he will get the opportunity to play again with Abraham for the national team in the future.
‘Yeah I think it would be fun,’ he said. ‘It's nice to see everyone doing so well and hopefully we can play again together for England one day. It's good to see that Gareth Southgate is calling up the youth, it gives us all a chance to push for that.’