In the latest part of our series looking at the upbringing of our Academy youngsters, defender Sam McClelland talks home life in Northern Ireland, John Terry and signing pro.
Where did you grow up and what was it like?
I grew up in a town called Limavady in Northern Ireland. I have a lot of friends back there who I’m still in contact with now. It was a good experience which helped make me, me.
What’s been the biggest change since moving to England?
Everything here and in London is bigger – biggest distances to travel, my town back home was small and everyone knew each other in the area. Here is just a massive place, obviously I came here for the football and it’s been another change, the intensity of training is so much more then what I was used to back home.
What is the biggest thing you miss from home?
I would have to say my family and friends. I stay in contact with some friends I have back home and I see my family every now and then.
Where did you play your football before Chelsea?
I started off at Limavardy youths, the town I was raised in. Then I played for Coleraine and that’s where I was for a number of years before moving over to Chelsea. We had a decent team back home and a few of us moved over to clubs in England – there are six of us who are still pretty close.
What’s your earliest memory of watching football?
I remember going to the Coleraine games after we had played. We would go to the first team game and watch their matches.
Have you ever played in any other positions?
I started out as a striker when I was younger, then slowly moved back into defence. Most people start off as a striker and love scoring goals but I think I read the game well and could see things others couldn’t - that’s why I’ve ended up where I am now.
Did you have any idols as a youngster?
In football, I looked up to John Terry here at Chelsea. Him being a leader, reading the game and the way he played inspired me. In life I’d say my dad, he’s always there for me and does everything I need.
Did you ever play any other sports in school?
I played cricket and rugby back home. I was quite sporty but football became the main thing and took over as I grew up. I can still give most sports a good go now.
What one footballing memory from your career so far sticks to mind?
The biggest moment would be signing my professional contract here at Chelsea. It was a big achievement taking into account where I came from back home and it’s always what I’ve wanted to do in life.
McClelland could feature for Ed Brand's Under-18s this morning (Saturday) in the Premier League Cup quarter-finals against Newcastle United. Kick-off in the North-East is at 11am.