Reece James has officially been confirmed as Chelsea Football Club’s new men's team captain.
A boyhood Blues supporter who joined our Academy at six years old, Reece was the club’s standout choice to lead us on and off the pitch this season.
'I'm so happy to take on the role and responsibility,' said James. 'I know I've got big shoes to fill because we have had huge captains here in the past, but I am excited.
'I have been at Chelsea pretty much my whole life. I started here when I was six and to come through the Academy is tough. But to go on and become captain, it's a great feeling for me and my family.'
Head coach Mauricio Pochettino said: ‘This is a decision taken by me and the club. We are very pleased Reece will captain the side this season.
‘He leads by example and his attitude and dedication to Chelsea has been clear throughout pre-season. He proudly wore the armband during our summer tour and will take up the challenge of leading our squad with his own approach and ideas.’
Co-sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart said: ‘Reece’s connection with Chelsea has been forged over 17 years. He understands the traditions of the club and the responsibilities that come with being captain.
‘He knows the standards required to win at this club – both from his time in the Academy and the first team – and it is a very proud moment for Reece and everyone connected to the club.'
Reece, whose sister Lauren plays for our women’s side, celebrated success throughout his time in the Academy. He twice won the FA Youth Cup as part of our Under-18s; his second triumph in the competition came as captain in 2018.
A loan in the Championship with Wigan Athletic followed. Reece made 46 appearances for the club and was named Player of the Year and Player's Player of the Year. He was also handed the captaincy for his final game at the DW Stadium.
Reece was integrated into the Chelsea first team ahead of the 2019/20 campaign by Frank Lampard. He scored on his debut – a long-range finish against Grimsby Town – and struck a memorable goal in the Champions League against Ajax.
There were 37 appearances made in that debut campaign. Reece would go on to make 47 during his second season the men’s side. It was a campaign that ended in spectacular fashion: we claimed the Champions League for the second time in our history.
Reece started the final against Manchester City in Porto and produced an excellent performance at right wing-back to ensure the trophy returned to Stamford Bridge.
The UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup would be claimed the following season, which saw Reece hit six goals in 39 matches in all competitions. He also established himself as a key figure in the England side.
Reece was limited to 24 appearances last term due to injury but has featured regularly throughout pre-season under Mauricio Pochettino.
And the next time he walks out in Chelsea blue, he will do so as club captain.