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Former Chelsea Development Centre officer Michael Beale has detailed how Chelsea were able to sign some of the best young players over the years.
The Blues have been able to sign a number of world-class and quality players for the senior team in time past, but it isn’t only the senior team that enjoyed getting top players as even the Chelsea academy was as well star studded.
In an exclusive interview with Goal, Beale has revealed how youngsters were keen to join Chelsea, but it was a frustrating time for him as there was no passage then into the first team for these youngsters.
“We brought in Mourinho as manager and then we went from Battersea Park and Harlington to Cobham, which was an unbelievable training ground,” Beale tells Goal.
“So, it was easy to recruit for Chelsea because they were a club people were looking at and very excited about.
“The problem [for the young players trying to break through at that time] was that Chelsea were one of the best teams in the world. They had five national team captains at one point!
“These guys were kings; they weren’t normal footballers. They are all legends now: [Michael] Ballack, [Frank] Lampard, Claude Makelele, William Gallas, [John] Terry, Ashley Cole, Branislav Ivanovic, Arjen Robben, [Didier] Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda.
“But having these names at the club inspired [the likes of Abraham, Mount and Loftus-Cheek] to join. On top of that, Neil Bath ran a fantastic academy and had a big vision for the academy.
“Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s age group was the first that I coached at 9 or 10. We also had Ola Aina, Dom Solanke, Jake Clarke-Salter, Fikayo Tomori, Reece James and Rhian Brewster at seven or eight. I coached Josh McEachran too, as well as Declan Rice, Eddie Nketiah and Jeremie Boga.
“I used to pick Tammy Abraham up from Peckham at his house and drop him off at training in Battersea. Wow, there were so many stars to speak about!
“I’ve got fond memories of knowing the Chelsea lads from six or seven years old. When I look back, I loved every minute and now it is clear to me that we were doing good work.
“I think over the years it has been difficult for people like Neil Bath because players have not always been given the opportunity. Now, though, it must be fantastic for him and the players, because, in the past, they would have had a lot of sleepless nights.”