Chelsea’s youth revolution this season has caught the eye of many fans and neutrals alike. The club and fans had been waiting desperately for a youth product to make the grade since John Terry, and their calls have been answered and how! Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Reece James, Christensen and many more have shown that they have the quality to consistently play at the top level. This is all thanks to the club’s youth academy that has been churning out quality young players every season, and Chelsea has a stacked trophy cabinet to show for it. The Academy took a big step in 2010 by winning its first major trophy since 1994 – The FA Youth Cup. Since then, the club’s academy has won a further 6 Youth cups, 2 UEFA Youth League titles and numerous league titles at the youth level. Today, we take a look back at the team that won the FA Youth Cup in 2010 and became the trendsetters at academy level.
Goalkeeper – Sam Walker
Born in Gravesend, Kent, Walker who stands at 6 foot 6 inches had all the makings of a top class goalkeeper. He conceded just 3 goals on his way to winning the Youth Cup in 2010. But as fate would have it, he never came near the first team let alone challenge Petr Cech. He was shipped on loan to a number of clubs including Barnet, Northampton Town, Yeovil Town, Bristol Rovers and Colchester for whom he signed permanently in January 2014. His inconsistent form meant he never settled at any club and is now part of the Reading squad in championship where he signed in 2018.
Right Back – Connor Clifford
Born in Slough, Clifford joined the Chelsea Academy at the age of 8. After winning the Youth Cup in 2010, he even made the first team bench for a Champions League match against Spartak Moscow, but remained an unused substitute. He is perhaps better known around the club for his prank that went horribly wrong in March 2012. He along with Jacob Mellis set off a smoke grenade which led to him being suspended and Mellis getting sacked. Connor was fortunate to have got a second chance but failed to make much of it after a few loan spells. In 2014, he terminated his contract with Chelsea through mutual consent and went on to sign for Walsall. He is another who has never managed to settle at a club and after going through 6 more clubs after Walsall, he currently turns out for Wealdstone in National League South, the sixth tier of English football.
Center Back – Rohan Ince
Ince standing at 6 feet 3 inches was good in the air as well as with his feet. He joined the Chelsea Academy at the age of 7 but despite being tipped for a bright future, failed to make it to the first team. After an injury ravaged loan spell at Yeovil Town in 2012, Ince joined Brighton permanently in 2013. Thanks to his ability to play out from the back, he was moved into defensive midfield at Brighton. Despite touching almost a century of appearances for Brighton, Ince was told he can leave the club in 2016. He then took in loan spells at Fulham, Swindon Town and Bury, and was ultimately released as a free agent by Brighton in 2018. After missing the whole 2018-19 season due to a knee injury, he signed for Cheltenham Town in 2019 where he got a straight red on his debut. Ouch!
Center Back – Jeffrey Bruma
Bruma was the only one on the team who had made his senior debut before winning the Youth Cup. He made his premier league debut against Blackburn Rovers in October 2009 under then manager Carlo Ancelotti. Bruma also made his International debut for Netherlands in 2010 against Ukraine. He also had his first league start in January 2011 when he played alongside club legend John Terry. However, he did not get any more first team opportunities after the departure of Carlo Ancelotti. After a couple of loan spells at Leicester City and Hamburg SV, he finally joined PSV permanently in June 2013. Chelsea though managed to get a buy back clause inserted in the deal which was never used. Currently he is contracted to Wolfsburg and spent the 2019-20 season on loan to Mainz 05. He has so far been capped 25 times by his country.
Left Back – Aziz Deen-Conteh
Born in Sierra Leone, Aziz joined Chelsea at the age of 13. He was given his professional contract under Ancelotti and was part of the 2012-13 Champions League squad, but failed to make an appearance for the first team. He was then released at the end of the season when Jose Mourinho took charge. He then signed for Greek club Ergotelis, but came back to England due to the Greek financial crisis. He later joined Port Vale where he failed to make a single appearance before being released in January 2016. He then moved on to clubs in Maldova and Georgia before again returning to England in 2017, when he joined Dover Athletic. He was released by the club at the end of the 2017-18 season and has been without a club since.
Right Midfielder – Jacopo Sala
Jacopo Sala is another player who was tipped for a bright future thanks to his good technical ability. He had impressive vision and was a capable dribbler. He made it to the first team bench for a couple of matches in 2010-11 season under Ancelotti but never made a appearance for the club before leaving for Hamburg SV at the end of the season. He later turned out for Hellas Verona and Sampdoria before signing for his current club SPAL in Serie A.
Central Midfielder – Conor Clifford
Conor Clifford captained the FA Youth Cup winning team in 2010 and also scored the decisive goal in the final against Aston Villa. His first loan spell was at Plymouth Argyle where he impressed, but his loan extension was blocked by Football League due to Plymouth’s financial difficulties. Then Plymouth boss Peter Reid revealed losing Conor was a bitter blow as he had become an important leader in his team. Despite showing a lot of promise and leadership qualities at a young age, Conor’s career went downhill after his spell at Plymouth. He went on many other loans before being released by Chelsea in January 2013. He has since signed for seven clubs before joining his current club Derry City in Ireland Premier Division in 2020.
Central Midfielder – Aliu Djaló
Born in Guinea-Bissau, Aliu joined Chelsea from Portugese club Boavista. After being unable to impress at reserve level during the first half of 2011-12 season, he moved to Cypriot club AEL Limassol where he made his senior debut and won the Cypriot First Division with the club. At the end of the season, he joined his boyhood club Boavista but failed to make an appearance. He then took in spells at numerous clubs in Portugal, Romanic, Poland, Finland, England and joined his current club Njarðvík in Iceland on 1st July 2019.
Left Midfielder – Gökhan Töre
Töre joined Chelsea from Bayer Leverkusen youth team in 2009. He was tipped for big things but never quite got going. After failing to make the grade at Chelsea, he moved Hamburg SV in 2011 joining his former Chelsea youth mates Jacopo Sala and Michael Mancienne. After a season, he moved to Rubin Kazan and then to Beşiktaş where he won the Süper Lig. Töre joined West Ham on loan with an option to buy in July 2016 but only managed 8 appearances for the club due to injury problems. He currently plays for Yeni Malatyaspor in the Turkish Süper Lig. He has also earned 26 caps for Turkey.
Attacking Midfielder – Josh McEachran
At the time, Josh was one of the brightest prospects to have come out of Chelsea’s academy and was billed as the future of Chelsea and England. He was given his debut by Ancelotti in September 2010 in a Champions League match and he became the first player to be born after Champions League began in November 1992 to play in the competition. Lauded for his vision and passing ability, he played in a deeper midfield role for Ancelotti where he impressed enough to go on to make 17 appearances in his debut season. He then failed to build on his debut season after the departure of Carlo Ancelotti and made only 5 appearances in 2011-12 season under Villas Boas. He was later shipped on loan to numerous clubs before leaving Chelsea to join Brentford in July 2015. After an injury prone spell at the club, McEachran moved on to join his current club Birmingham City in 2019.
Striker – Marko Mitrović
Mitrović joined Chelsea at the age of sixteen in 2008. He scored the equalizing goal in 2010 FA Youth Cup final second leg and was also the team’s top scorer that season. Being Swedish, he was billed as the next Zlatan Ibrahimović. At 6 foot 3, he was tall and was known for his pace, dribbling and aerial ability with a good left foot shot. But due to constant injuries, he failed to make much of an impact at the club and finally left in June 2012 when his contract expired. Since then, he has undergone stints at clubs in Italy, Netherlands and Denmark before joining his current club Radnički Niš in Serbia. He is currently playing for Dinamo Vranje on loan in the Serbian second division. At the age of 27, he has just 6 senior goals to his name.
Edited by: Dan