Southwark-born Ola Aina signed for the club as an Under-11 and started his career as a right winger with an eye for goal, before moving further back and establishing himself predominantly as a highly mobile full-back, also capable of playing as a central defender.
He made his youth team debut as a schoolboy in the 2012/13 season and went on to start in both legs of the semi-final and final of the FA Youth Cup.
In his debut season as a scholar, Aina featured regularly for Adi Viveash’s Under-18s and was an ever-present on the way to Youth Cup success. European Under-19 and domestic Under-21 debuts followed, with the defender utilised as a centre-back as the senior age group won their domestic title.
Aina’s prominence in the Youth Cup continued in 2014/15 as he won the trophy for the second time and once again played in every round. His run of 20 consecutive appearances in the competition across three seasons is unprecedented. He also played in every game in the Under-19s’ triumphant UEFA Youth League campaign, scoring in the group opener at home to Schalke, while establishing himself as an Under-21 regular.
His impressive season was acknowledged by Jose Mourinho, who included the defender in his squad for the post and pre-season tours in the summer of 2015 and added him to the first team squad for the campaign to come. He spent the 2015/16 season training full-time with the first team while playing for the Under-21s and Under-19s. In April 2016, he claimed a second UEFA Youth League crown with the latter group, featuring in seven of the 10 matches including both the semi-final and final in Switzerland, in which he played at left-back.
Aina signed a second professional contract in July 2016, committing him to the club for another four years, and the following month he was handed his Chelsea debut, starting at left-back in a League Cup win over Bristol Rovers at Stamford Bridge. That was followed by his league debut as a late substitute in a home win over Leicester and another start in the League Cup at West Ham. By the end of 2016/17 he had two starts and four substitute appearances to his name.
It was announced on 11 July 2017 he would be spending the forthcoming season on loan in the Championship at Hull City. He was a regular for the Tigers in the early part of the season and made his senior international debut for Nigeria in October 2017, coming on a substitute against Zambia as Nigeria qualified for the World Cup finals.
CHELSEA APPEARANCES (COMPLETED SEASONS)
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