After skippering the Blues in our last match, Mason Mount discusses his pride every time he represents Chelsea and why our young players already have the experience to compete at the top of the Premier League.
With club captain Cesar Azpilicueta and vice-captain Jorginho both among the substitutes for Sunday’s FA Cup fourth-round win over Championship side Luton Town, Mount skippered the team for the first time.
For someone who has spent his whole career with Chelsea and risen through the ranks of our Academy, it was an emotional occasion for the midfielder.
‘It was a very proud moment for me, for my family,’ he said. ‘To lead the boys out at Stamford Bridge was an amazing feeling. It’s something that I dreamt of as a young boy. I dreamt of just walking out and playing a game, but with the captain’s armband on my arm as well made it even more special. It was a big moment for me and I learnt a lot from that experience and hopefully I can take that into the future and hopefully wear that armband again in the future.’
Given his history with the club and time in our Academy dreaming of representing the men's first team at the Bridge, it is not just captaining the side that gives him such pride either, as he admits he still feels like he is living his dream every time he represents the club.
‘It doesn’t change. Every single time I put that shirt on I still have that immense pride, the desire to want to do well, to succeed and to win. Every single time I put that shirt on, ever since I joined the club at six years old, that’s how I’ve felt and I don’t think that will ever change.
‘That’s always been my mentality and that’s the mentality of the boys that when I look left and right I can see on the pitch. I feel like everybody should be like that and we strive for greatness.’
Our number 19 became the youngest person to captain Chelsea in nearly 20 years, since a certain John Terry was first handed the armband by Claudio Ranieri in 2001, but perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that Mount was given that responsibility at the age of just 22.
As he points out, he and the rest of the young members of our squad who emerged from the Academy over the last 18 months have gained a lot of experience playing at the highest level in a short space of time.
‘As young players I feel like we’ve definitely stepped up, especially last season as well, and gained a lot of experience,’ he said. ‘I wouldn’t really categorise some of the boys as young players anymore because some of us are coming up to 100 Premier League appearances or appearances for the club and many of the boys have played international football.
‘So we have a lot of experience within the group even though some of us are quite young still. As players we learn a lot from the experienced boys, that’s definitely something that we keep getting better and better at. Hopefully we’ll keep getting the performances to the standard that we should be at and that we expect from ourselves. That’s definitely our goal now.’
One of those experienced players who has helped the younger members of the squad develop so rapidly is Olivier Giroud, and Mount highlighted the Frenchman’s role in mentoring fellow striker Tammy Abraham.
‘Oli is one of the best professionals I’ve ever been involved with and played with. I’ve learnt a lot off him, I know Tammy has learnt a lot off him. I see him going to speak to Tammy at half-time at games, after the game, when Oli hasn’t started, and speaking to Tammy about his game and what he did well and what he can improve on.
‘That’s the kind of person Oli is. He’s a massive character, so professional, we can all learn from him. He’s been at the top of the game for so long, won big trophies, won the World Cup, won the Premier League, and he’s definitely someone we all look up to as young players coming in. Being able to speak to him, being around him, he’s a very special person and it’s an honour to play with him.’
All of that means Mount is confident that Chelsea can close the six-point gap to the top four during the second half of the campaign and secure a qualification spot for next season’s Champions League.
‘That’s always our goal, to be up there, and obviously it’s going to be tough but we’re Chelsea and we’re a big club, we have very good players. We know there’s plenty of time left in the season to keep pushing and get in it. So hopefully we can turn the results around, try to get as many points as we can and hopefully we can finish up in the top four.
‘That’s the most important thing for the club. We need to stay very strong and focused for every game we go into now. We want to win, we want to be very competitive and do the best we can. This season has been tough. It has been up and down and it’s been difficult at times, but we’re a strong group of players and we need to get back on track.’