Tino Anjorin has committed his long-term future to Chelsea with the signing of a new five-year contract following his senior breakthrough this season.
The 18-year-old made his Blues debut in our big Carabao Cup victory against Grimsby Town in September and also featured as a substitute in our most recent Premier League outing, March’s 4-0 win over Everton at Stamford Bridge.
He is top goalscorer this season for our development squad, who were unbeaten and top of the league before the curtailment of the Premier League 2 campaign, and has captained our Under-18s as they reached the FA Youth Cup semi-finals.
‘It’s a brilliant feeling,’ he told the official Chelsea website after putting pen to paper on the new deal. ‘I’ve been at the club since I was six years old so to get to this stage and then be offered another five-year contract on top of that is amazing.
‘I had no hesitation but to take it straight away because to play for the club I always dreamed of playing for is really special for me.’
The England Under-19 international believes this campaign has been a particularly significant one for young players at Chelsea, with Frank Lampard having handed a record eight Academy players their debuts so far in 2019/20.
‘It’s been a really crucial season for young players here,’ Anjorin went on. ‘Frank, Jody Morris and Joe Edwards have taken us on board and really committed themselves to bringing young players through.
‘It’s been really important to have those familiar faces around,’ he said of the former Academy coaches who are now working alongside Lampard. ‘It’s easy to talk to people and be around the first team building more because you’re welcomed in.
'Hopefully I can try to carry on being a part of that as long as I keep working hard and impressing the coaches.’
Anjorin caught the eye with an impressive cameo against Grimsby in the autumn before featuring once again from the bench in March, this time in the Premier League for the first time. He has been training with the senior group in recent weeks and would relish further opportunities to run out at Stamford Bridge, where he has felt such warm support from the Chelsea fans.
‘Coming on and playing well like I did in the 20 minutes that I had, it was amazing,’ the teenager recalls of his senior debut in the Carabao Cup. ‘It just feels brilliant to be out there and hear the crowd because you don’t really experience that kind of atmosphere at Under-23s level.
‘You feel like everyone is behind you. When I was about to come on, I remember just hearing this massive roar which was completely unexpected. I thought it would be quiet because nobody knew who I was but I think they knew I was from the Academy so the support was brilliant. It put a smile on my face for the rest of the day!
‘Against Everton, I’ll never forget the fans singing my name because it just felt so amazing. I was on the pitch playing and then I just heard them chanting ‘Tino, Tino, Tino’. It was unbelievable to hear that.’
The latest graduate from our incessantly successful youth system, Anjorin has been earmarked as a special talent since the day he signed for Chelsea at eight years old. His unique blend of athleticism, technical proficiency and ability to impact games in the final third have helped him stand out throughout his rise through the age groups.
He also has a knack for netting eye-catching and important goals, as demonstrated at the Emirates in the 2018 FA Youth Cup final as he completed our 7-1 rout against Arsenal while still only 16 years old.
Anjorin has played most of his football since with the development squad, though still remains eligible for the Youth Cup and has captained Ed Brand’s side this term as they reached the semi-finals before the Academy season was suspended last month.
‘It was a brilliant season before the coronavirus arrived,’ he continued. ‘We were unbeaten in Premier League 2, which was a phenomenal achievement and all credit to the coaches for that.
‘I was top scorer as well so it was disappointing to miss out on ending the season but the health of everybody comes first and it was the right thing to do.’
While the Academy season has been curtailed, Premier League football is set to resume in a matter of weeks and Anjorin will certainly be hoping to add to his two senior appearances so far this season. In the longer-term, his aim is to establish himself as a Stamford Bridge regular.
‘I’ve been at Chelsea for so long so it feels really special to get this new long contract, especially because it gives me a few years to keep developing and try to push to get into the first team,’ he added.
‘I know I still have a lot of hard work to do to get there but hopefully I can do it and inspire the next group of young players coming through that it can be done.’