Our series looking at the upbringing of our Academy youngsters returns for another season and new scholar Charlie Webster gets us started ahead of the new campaign as he talks about his first memory of playing football, the 2010 World Cup and captaining England.
What’s your first footballing memory?
It would probably be the first time I went to a training session. I was with my dad and we were supposed to go and play a bit of basketball but that didn’t happen for some reason - it was called off. While having lunch, through the window we could see a football session with other kids going on and I said to my dad, 'that looks fun. Do you think I could join in?'
It was called Brazilian Soccer Skills. I went there and I remember practicing skills with our own individual footballs. I remember just loving it – I was there up until I joined Chelsea aged nine.
Where did your footballing journey start?
Through the Brazilian Soccer Skills club, we started a team called Salisbury United and we entered a local league. After a match, a Chelsea scout who was at the game spoke to my dad and asked me to come and train with the club. I remember my dad telling me in the car and I couldn’t stop smiling. It was a pretty special time for me.
Were you into any other sports as a youngster?
Basketball when I was much younger and as I grew I got into football and tennis, which have been my main sports. I would like to get back into tennis, it’s a good sport for movement and agility. I think it helped me quite a lot while growing up.
-Watch live PL2 football next week
Did you play in any other positions?
I have always been a midfielder. At very young ages there aren't really positions, you kind of just play anywhere but I always remember liking the middle of the pitch. I do remember, in one of my earliest games for Chelsea when we played PSG, I played at right-back but I think the coach was just trying me out there.
Did you have any idols when you were younger?
My footballing idols would have to be Luca Modric and I have to say Lionel Messi. When I was younger, Messi was the man - and he still is now! A non-footballing idol would have to be Muhammed Ali. I liked his mentality and work ethic because he did everything possible to be the best.
What’s your earliest memory of watching football?
We were on holiday in Egypt at the time and I remember watching the 2010 World Cup. They created a room in the hotel for the guests to watch the football. I was about six years old and I remember it clearly - I loved watching that tournament.
Which one footballing memory stands out in your career so far?
It’s got to be captaining England Under-16s for the first time - that was insane. I found out in the morning of the game and when you see the little ‘C’ by your name, it’s a feeling like no other. I had to quickly text my family who came to watch and let them know. My debut was special as well but the added pressure of the armband was something I’ll never forget.
Ed Brand’s Under-18s travel to Brighton & Hove Albion to kick off their league campaign this morning. Action gets underway at 11am and we'll have a full match report on this website later this afternoon.
In other Academy news, Harvey Vale has signed his first professional contact with Chelsea. The 17-year-old made nine youth team appearances and scored one goal while still a schoolboy and appeared for the men's team during their pre-season friendly with Brighton. The youngster will remain a Blue until at least June 2023. Congratulations, Harvey!