In the latest instalment of a feature where we speak to one of our players out on loan, we hear from Trevoh Chalobah, the 20-year-old midfielder who is currently playing regularly in the Championship with Huddersfield Town.
It is Chalobah’s second season in the second tier after he spent the 2018/19 campaign at Ipswich Town. Despite receiving individual praise for his performances, the Tractor Boys were ultimately relegated.
In the summer, our Academy graduate joined up with Huddersfield, who had just been relegated themselves from the Premier League. Following a shaky start to the season in which manager Jan Siewert left the club after three league games, the Terriers have stabilised under new boss Danny Cowley and currently sit three points clear of safety.
Chalobah has made 30 appearances, featuring mostly in midfield, and he tells the official Chelsea website about how he has adapted to that role as well as the Premier League stars past and present whom he relies upon for support.
First of all Trevoh, how are you dealing with the enforced football shutdown?
‘I’ve been doing my own training indoors in our gym, which I’ve been using to keep myself fit. We were told last Friday that our weekend game was cancelled so we’ve been off since then.
‘It’s been really boring without football but we just have to keep ourselves fit and ready for when things get better.’
Rewinding back to the summer, after a positive season on a personal level last year in the Championship, why did you decide on Huddersfield?
‘Out of all the teams, Huddersfield wanted me more. They showed more interest and not just that, they wanted to develop me as well. They could see my qualities from last season and wanted me to bring it to them this season.
‘I learnt a lot at Ipswich, playing in a team that was struggling for most of the season so I’ve just tried to take that and bring it here. Those are the qualities they wanted me to bring and that’s the main reason I came here really.’
The team are currently four places outside the drop zone with nine games remaining but how have you found things personally in Yorkshire?
‘It’s been good, better than last year as I’m playing with better players and I’ve also been able to learn from two different managers. The current manager [Danny Cowley], having come from the lower leagues, he knows what it takes – it’s all about hard work and stuff like that.’
It must have been difficult as Jan Siewert, the manager who brought you to the club in the summer, departed a few weeks into the campaign…
‘It was a bit nervous for me because he was obviously the one that brought me in. He was the one who wanted me, to help me and work with me, but it’s football and it happens. It was a shock but we just had to move on.
‘I feel like the manager now has really helped me a lot. I played against him and Lincoln with Chelsea in the Checkatrade Trophy and he said he remembered me from that game. I remember it was a really tough game and what they had in that team – resilience, hard work, grit - they’ve brought to Huddersfield.’
You played 43 times in the Championship last season – did that help you hit the ground a bit quicker this time round?
‘Yeah, definitely. When I started the season, I knew straight away what was needed and what I needed to bring from last season. I obviously played a lot of games last season and learnt all about the Championship. It’s a really tough league so physically and mentally I was prepared for this year and I feel I’ve showed that in my performances.
‘Last season, when I played my first game I could see the difference from academy football instantly in terms of the physicality and the tactical side of things. You don’t have as much time on the ball, especially in midfield, but physically it’s much tougher as well. You’re coming up against teams that are much stronger, that can run all day as well so you have to have the fitness too.’
When we caught up with you this time last year, you indicated that central midfield was the position you wanted to settle in and that has been the case so far this term…
‘Playing in midfield last season was a new position for me but now I’ve settled well in that position. Of course, I’m still learning as well and I still need to develop more and get better. I’ve been playing in the number eight role as well as the number six so it’s been good to learn both positions.’
Paulo Ferreira is your loans mentor this season. How useful is it to have someone with that wealth of top-level experience to lean on for advice?
‘I’m close to Paulo. He comes to a lot of my games and he’s always talking to me. He’s been a big help to my time at Huddersfield. We work on things I need to improve and I’ve been taking that on board this season so he’s definitely played a big part in my improvement this year.’
And of course, you also have your older brother Nathaniel [who plays for Watford] to call on for some tips…
‘We talk all the time. Even when I was at Chelsea, he was the one always giving me advice. He’s the one person who’s really helped me a lot in my career. He’s played at the highest level in the Premier League and we’re always talking. He tells me the things to do and not to do so it’s good to have someone like that to look up to and help me.’
Back at Chelsea this season, some of your old team-mates from the Academy age groups have been making quite the impression in the senior team under Frank Lampard…
‘I’ve been really happy for them. I keep in contact with them almost every day as well – Reece [James], Mason [Mount], Fikayo [Tomori], Tammy [Abraham], all of them. I’m just happy for them because it shows the hard work they’ve put in and going out on loan for a few years has paid off.
‘They’ve done so well and it just shows that it doesn’t matter about your age because if you’re good enough then you’re old enough. That’s what Frank has brought, giving the young players confidence for them to go out there and show people that they are capable of doing what they can do now, and you can see that in their performances.
‘All it needed was patience. There’s a lot of good players that have come through that maybe didn’t get those opportunities but these boys now have taken their chance and worked hard. It all comes from growing up in the Academy really - they’ve produced a lot of good players, the coaches and facilities have helped us, going on loan has helped us and now it makes me happy to see them so involved. If I do well myself, then hopefully next season I can join those boys I’ve grown up with as well.’
Finally, what are your targets for the remainder of the season then?
‘Hopefully we get the last nine games played and our target is just staying in the division, getting as many points as we can get and keeping this club up. I believe we’re more than capable of that with the team we have.’
-Catch up with more of our loans interviews from this season as Nathan Baxter, Jake Clarke-Salter, Richard Nartey, Ike Ugbo and Conor Gallagher all spoke to us about their time away from Stamford Bridge.
As well as the 'Life on Loan' video above with Dujon Sterling, there are also other episodes with Baxter and Gallagher available on the 5th Stand app.