Three seasons ago, Chelsea bought lanky defender Matt Miazga from New York Red Bulls and interim manager Guus Hiddink handed him two starts towards the end of a troubled 2015/16 campaign.
The first of Miazga’s showing was quite impressive. But he was yanked at half-time of the second one, against Swansea, after getting a yellow card and generally looking out of his depth. He has not been on the pitch again for Chelsea since.
The next season he was loaned to Vitesse, where has steadily improved his game, earned a recall to the US Men’s National Team, and even wore the captain’s armband on one occasion.
The 22-year-old American now believes he has what it takes to prove himself at Chelsea.
He told Goal: “I wouldn’t say I wasn’t ready, because at the time you think you’re ready. But then you realize as you’re getting older and you’re playing more football games and getting better and improving and analyzing and all that stuff, you realize how much you improve and how much more I’ve added to my game, and how much more assured I am of myself.”
Miazga, who was an integral part of the Vitesse team that fought its way through the playoffs to earn a place in the Europa League continued: “That’s the way it should be. You don’t want to stay stagnant. You want to keep improving. I’m not trying to be the best version of myself at 20 years old. I want to keep improving every year, and keep adding to my game, and being the best I can be year by year. It would be bad for me to say that at 20-21 years old I’m peak product, I’m not getting any better, because I’m always going to strive for more, strive for consistency, for perfection.”
Miazga then revealed that he has been improving his leadership qualities in the Netherlands.
He said: “The group here is pretty young. I’m one of the more experienced players here. That’s personally good for me, to try and help these younger guys, because I always liked it when older guys take you under their wing and help you integrate more. It happened to me at Red Bull, Chelsea, so on and so forth, even in my first few caps with the national team. So I’m going to try and help these young guys as well. I know a few guys, like (Matt) Olosunde and (Josh) Sargent, so I’m going to try and help them. We have a young group, and hungry group, and we’re going to work hard and try to establish ourselves.”
“I felt more confidence and more trust from the coach this year for sure. But also, I just thought I’m getting older. I’m in a position where you need to be commanding, you need to communicate a lot, you need to be a leader. And I just kind of took it upon myself to be that leader, to be more of a presence and help my team-mates out any way I can. Organize and just be prepared for everything.”