“I didn’t like it”- Reece James recalls how he ‘hated’ playing right-back at Chelsea

Chelsea star Reece James recollects how he hated playing right-back

Reece James has described how he came tantalisingly close to becoming a striker at Chelsea before realising his best position in the team.

James is currently one of the top right-backs in Europe after graduating from Chelsea’s youth academy. The 23-year-old began practising with his childhood club at the age of just six.

The next year, James spent a brief time at Fulham, but he quickly returned to Chelsea and has remained a member of the team ever since. He most definitely received his reward when he was promoted to the senior team and ultimately made his senior debut in 2019 under the then-manager Frank Lampard.

Since then the England international has subsequently made 124 appearances, scoring 11 goals and dishing out 20 assists.

Chelsea right-back Reece James.
Chelsea right-back Reece James.

Yet despite the firings of Lampard and Thomas Tuchel, he has continued to be Chelsea’s most important defender ever since. James says, however, that he experienced difficulties when he was younger and that he almost gave up playing football.

He played centre-forward while still in the academy because Didier Drogba, a Chelsea star, served as his role model. James, a 23-year-old, (h/t Football.London), commented while participating in an interview for England Football’s grassroots football series:

“When I was growing up, I was a striker, and I idolised Didier Drogba, the Chelsea star continued. He played on my team, he played in my position, and I always looked up to him. I just wanted to be like him, score like him, and celebrate like him.”

“I stopped playing striker around the age of 11 or 12 and moved my way back into midfield. I spent three or four years there and then found myself right back around the age of 15.

I hated it for two or three years. I didn’t like it, and then one day it just clicked, and I started to really enjoy it, around the age of 17. But it did take a lot of getting used to. It frustrated me a lot to play there when I didn’t want to play there.”

Reece James tells how he nearly became a striker at Chelsea. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)
Reece James tells how he nearly became a striker at Chelsea. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)

James has quickly established himself as a top right-back, which has contributed to his rise to prominence in Europe. His attacking contributions coupled with his defensive nous make him a world-class player that any team would be lucky to have.

He is undoubtedly one of the first names on our team sheet. And praise also goes to Frank Lampard, who concentrated on giving young players an opportunity to demonstrate their skills.

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Perhaps if he honed his skills as a striker, then we could have had a solution to our goal-scoring problems right now… jokes aside, it is probably for the best that he was moved to right-back. The 23-year-old will only get better with age, and the sky is the limit for him.

Let’s just hope this interview doesn’t give Graham Potter any crazy ideas to move him into midfield… the dynamic he brings from the flanks is one of the main attacking outlets for us going forward.

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