In 2014, Jordan Houghton was part of a Chelsea team that had just won the first of the club’s five FA Youth Cups in a row. And he was knocking on the door trying to get his chance in the first team under Jose Mourinho.
Cesc Fabregas arrived from Barcelona to add to Mourinho’s midfield options, which already included Nemanja Matic, Ramires and John Obi Mikel. Like many young hopefuls coming through the Chelsea system however, Houghton ended up on loan before ultimately leaving for good.
Back then, Houghton might have fared better with a coach like Frank Lampard to bridge the gap to the first team but the MK Dons midfielder has nothing but fond memories of his time at Cobham.
He got the chance to train with superstars like Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, along with his idol John Terry. And he is grateful for the patience shown towards him – a deep-thinker and an introvert – by the staff at the world-class facility.
“Everyone asks me: ‘Is it disappointing not to get your shot at the first team?’,” he tells Goal.
“Especially now with Frank Lampard there. They ask me if I would have got my chance, but I don’t look at it like that.
“I had an amazing 15 years of grounding and schooling which has trained me to have a job in football.
“It would have been lovely to make a Premier League appearance but I look back at amazing memories – of coming from a little introverted kid who kicked a ball about at a local side to be in one of the best academies in the world and excel.
“Against Wimbledon, I remember Mourinho absolutely hammering Matic and threatening to get rid of him so that was an eye-opener! I then went on tour with the first team.
“I took what I could from training with these guys and the first player who stuck out was Deco. He was just a class player with his touches. Didier Drogba, Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas, Lampard and John Terry.
“But I think Eden Hazard was the best first-team player that I played with. He was incredible but he didn’t train so hard to be fresh for big games in the difficult periods. He was unplayable when he turned it on in training.
“I remember really enjoying training under Di Matteo, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Rafa Benitez.”
Source: News update