You could say that Reece James is living the dream right now.
The teenager is playing for his boyhood club, under a true Chelsea legend in Frank Lampard, and has quickly established himself as a real fans’ favourite at Stamford Bridge. Mind you, netting a dramatic goal in a Champions League thriller always helps.
What is even more staggering about Reece’s rise up the ranks at Chelsea this season is that he missed the entirety of pre-season after being sidelined with a serious ankle injury. Given his performances since recovering, you’d have never guessed he’d been injured at all.
Having said that, such high-quality have his performances been at right-back for the Blues, you’d could be forgiven for thinking he had been a mainstay in the team for years rather than just a teenager stepping into the Premier League for the first time. But what does the man himself think of his season so far?
‘Ever since I’ve been back from injury, it’s been going pretty well for me,’ says Reece, as he reflects on his breakthrough season with Chelsea.
‘Obviously in the early days it was tough getting some minutes because I was still coming back from quite a bad injury, but as the season’s gone on I feel like I’ve gradually got better and improved.
‘This is the club I want to play for and I have worked very hard to get to this point. I always felt that my ability was good enough and I’m just thankful that the gaffer has given me the chance to play.’
Chelsea, and Lampard generally, have always been a big part of Reece’s journey. He’s been a Blues fan from a young age, looking up to our head coach from his days as a goal-scoring midfielder, and even now he appreciates the impact Super Frank is having on his career.
‘We moved to west London when I was very young and grew up not too far from Stamford Bridge,’ our No24 explains about his roots.
‘It was natural for them to be my team. My brother supported Man United but Lauren (sister) and I were always Chelsea. When I first supported them, it was people like Robben, Drogba, Cech and the gaffer that I looked up to.
‘Even now, as my manager, he’s great. He’s a man-to-man manager and he says what he thinks. If he thinks you should be doing more, or even if you’re doing well, he will pull you to a one side and tell you that. I appreciate that about him.
‘The way he’s been around me, and all the players for that matter, is very good.’
You can read a full and exclusive interview with Reece in the Chelsea Magazine.