Chelsea has waved the flag of young people this season with our young people who have illuminated the Premier League and cup competitions, but it has not happened overnight, it was a love job with an unsung hero who pull the strings.
Of course, many will point out the ban on the summer transfer of the blues as a catalyst for the emergence of youth on Stamford Bridge this season, but it goes much deeper.
Regardless of the embargo, Chelsea was on the cusp of something special; the likes of Reece James, Mason Mount, Fiyako Tomori, Tammy Abraham and many others were always ready to go wild in the Premier League.
Years have gone by in planning and preparation, and yes Frank Lampard was the man who ultimately delivered their debuts to the Cobham revolution, but he was not the main protagonist in the story.
This honor belongs to the youngest ever Chelsea player to appear in the Premier League and to the man who Lampard convinced to return to the Blues in the summer.
The Chelsea boss, just named following a successful streak with Derby, may not have been able to recruit players, but he made a stellar signature practically gone unnoticed: Jody Morris.
Morris made his Blues debut at just 17 years and 43 days against Middlesbrough in 1996. However, it wasn’t his game days that put him in the spotlight.
A close friend of John Terry in the club’s youth academy, the midfielder’s career peaked in Chelsea, where he was largely a team player in the late 1990s and early 1940s, part of the team that won the cup. of Cups and the Cup of Cups.
Although he also played for Leeds, Millwall and St Johnstone later in his playing career and won seven appearances for England Under 21, Morris’ crowning success in football may have come as a coach.
Chelsea’s current number two is the man behind the current excess of young people who wear the badge with pride, after cutting his teeth as a coach in Cobham as head of the academy.
In his two years in office for the Under 18, his team has won all the competitions they have entered, winning seven titles in total – pairing the famous ‘Busy Babes’.
The victory over Arsenal in the FA Youth Cup final in 2018 was the club’s fifth in a row and equaled the record for that legendary Manchester United team.
But although the trophies and awards have been nice, it is the long-lasting impact that Morris has bestowed on his young posts and their career paths that is the most important.
Over the two seasons, his team hosted current players from the first team Callum Hudson-Odoi, Reece James, Fiyako Tomori, Billy Gilmour and Chelsea’s most recent Premier League debutant, Tariq Lamptey.
All the success stories in their own right, but to really understand the extent of Morris’ influence you just have to look at one player, Mason Mount.
Mount captained Chelsea youth in the FA Youth Cup 6-2 final victory over Manchester City in 2017.
From there the midfielder didn’t look back, Morris and Lampard joined Derby last season and Mount followed his mentors to Pride Park, along with fellow student Tomori.
And this season the 20-year-old has emerged as one of the most exciting talents in the British top flight, appearing so far in all 21 Chelsea Premier League games, scoring five goals.
Not only that, but Mount gained high international recognition, winning six appearances for England and even taking a goal in his country’s 4-0 win away to Kosovo in November.
But all that aside, he’s the player he faced in the FA Youth Cup final that really shows the extent of Morris’ result, against Mount he was none other than Phil Foden.
Foden has been used sparingly by the boss Pep Guardiola in the league this season, limited to only two starts and appearances on the bench.
Now Foden is probably an even better all-round footballer than Mount, but he hasn’t enjoyed the same trajectory as his counterpart and has yet to represent England on a senior level.
Why? Because in Manchester City there is no continuity, neither the nostalgia nor the pride of the youth that resonates currently in the west of London.
In 2017, the City Under 18 manager was Lee Carsley. But the former Everton midfielder did not continue to join Guardiola’s staff behind the scenes and create the path for the first team as Morris did, in fact, he did not even stay with the club.
Neither one of his players, a certain Jadon Sancho who also shared the pitch with Mount and Foden in the final, but who chose to follow Carsley out of the Etihad door that same summer.
Sancho was and still is one of the most important prospects of world football, but he has not seen a path for first team football in City, opting to move to Borussia Dortmund.
And yes, Mount also gained his streaks away from Stamford Bridge, but only on a temporary basis in Derby, and the connection to Chelsea was still there.
He played under the watchful eye of Morris and his exodus from the Bridge would have been only short when he acquired the necessary experience to enter Chelsea starting from the XI.
Fluidity at the highest level, but it took time and patience, it was a project in preparation and Chelsea owes a lot to their original wonderkid.
As for the future, speaking to the Evening Express, Morris hinted that his and Chelsea’s work in moving the next generation forward had just begun.
“There is a great deal of pride among some of the people who worked with them in the academy. It has been a fantastic decade for the Academy, but it doesn’t stop there, “he said.
“Now you’re looking at when the next ones will come.”