In the latest part of our series looking at the football upbringing of our Academy youngsters, striker Armando Broja talks about his experiences at other clubs and watching clips of his idol Ronaldo.
What are your earliest memories of playing football?
My earliest memory of football was playing at the park with my two cousins, my aunt and my mum. We always had a little kickabout - I was only about three at the time. Ever since I was born, I was always with a ball at my feet. Football was something that instantly clicked with me and has always been a massive part of my life.
Where were you playing your football before Chelsea?
I started off at Burnham Juniors and it was my first ever club. I was playing a year up and I have so many good memories from there. After that, I went on a few trials with Reading, it went well there and I enjoyed it but at the time I was searching for a bigger club.
Then I went Fulham’s Academy and on the first day I was there, we had a game against the signed players and the coach was so impressed with me he switched me over with one of the signed boys and I played for them the rest of the game.
I went to a tournament with Burnham Juniors and there was a Spurs scout there watching. He actually came to watch another player in my team but I ended up winning Player of the Tournament and he took me on instead, so I went to Tottenham and signed for them. I was at Spurs for two years from Under-8s until the end of Under-9s and in those two years, we played Chelsea a lot and they really liked me as a player and that’s when I joined the Academy.
Read - Previous Teenage Kicks features
Who did you look up to when you were younger?
I looked up to both my mum and dad because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Every day they’ve supported me and been by my side. My dad worked very hard for the family and my mum used to drive me everywhere because they knew how much football meant to me. Whenever I felt down or like I couldn’t do it anymore, they would always be there to pick me up and boost me.
My Chelsea idol is Didier Drogba - he was a machine, very strong, a great finisher and he had an amazing career. At Chelsea, he achieved so much and he was always the one to produce in the big games.
My main footballing idol is the Brazilian Ronaldo because he was just an unbelievable player. My dad first introduced me to him and I watched so many of his clips. He was strong, fast, two-footed, he had everything. That’s who I aspire to be like.
Which footballing memory sticks in your mind?
It was a game against Anderlecht, we were losing 2-0 and I came on and scored one just before half-time to make it 2-1. We played so much better in the second half and we got another goal back to make it 2-2. 10 minutes later, the ball got played into me and I scored my second. We ended up drawing the game but it was an amazing game for myself personally.
What’s your earliest memory of watching football?
One of my earliest games was when Chelsea beat Arsenal 1-0 in 2005, Drogba scored the goal with his knee. I watched many games before this, but that's a particular game that really stands out for me.
As you grew older at Chelsea, how difficult was it trying to juggle your school work and football?
It was very difficult for me to juggle them both because I just wanted to focus on football but education was so important. I had to do after-school lessons on football days and sometimes I was late to training, but I managed to get through it all and I did very well.
Now being just a full-time footballer is so different. I’m in every day doing the thing I love and I really enjoy it - it’s such a great opportunity to be at Chelsea.
-Broja and our youth team travel to Blackburn Rovers in the opening game of the Under-18 Premier League Cup today (Saturday). Ed Brand's boys will also take on Arsenal and Wolverhampton Wanderers in Group A. Meanwhile, on a busy day of Blues action, our development squad are in Leicester to take on the Foxes in Premier League 2.