England's Ruben Loftus-Cheek reflects on a 'special year'

Thursday 28 Jul 2016
Ruben Loftus-Cheek

England Under-21s and Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek admits 2016 has been a special year for him so far.

The 20-year-old broke into the Stamford Bridge first team and scored his first goal for the club in the second half of last season, before helping England to win the Toulon Tournament earlier this summer.

Loftus-Cheek also joined a list including the likes of Thierry Henry, James Rodriguez and Javier Mascherano by being named as player of the tournament at the prestigious event in the south of France. 

Cauley Woodrow and Ruben Loftus-Cheek with the Toulon trophy

Loftus-Cheek with England tean-mate Cauley Woodrow and the Toulon trophy

And the Lewisham-born playmaker is determined to keep on the upward curve he’s enjoyed so far in his short career with both club and country.

"I work hard to try and be the best that I can and I have an ambition to try and achieve great stuff in football," he told FIFA TV.

"I look to those players who have done it and I'll try and get as close to them as I can.

"I've been at Chelsea's academy all my life, progressing through the ranks every year and working hard to get signed on again and now I'm in the first team.

"I think it's been a very valuable experience for me, coming on and scoring for Chelsea was a massive moment, because there's been a lot of ups and downs getting to the first team.

"But this year has been a special year for me and even though I didn't play too much, I'm really proud of what I've done this year.

"I haven't looked too far into the future, but I think for me, it's about trying to get my head down and work hard and get as many games and experiences at my club as I can and we'll go from there."

It’s not only with Chelsea where Loftus-Cheek has been progressing through the ranks, as he’s also been an integral part of England’s development teams over the years.

Re-live the celebrations in France, where England U21s won the Toulon Tournament

He made his Three Lions bow for the U16s in the Victory Shield back in 2011 and has gone on to collect multiple caps for the U17s, U19s and U21s.

And he admits his time with the Young Lions has provided an additional element to his football education working under coaches such as Kenny Swain, John Peacock, Sean O’Driscoll and Gareth Southgate.

"International football is very different to club football, you go away for a few weeks and the games come thick and fast," he explained.

"You learn a lot about recovery and nutrition and all that stuff which is really important so to be at such a young age and staying in the England teams has been really good for me."

It’s easy to spot Loftus-Cheek when he’s on the pitch, with his stature and natural ability often making him stand out from the crowd.

He scored three goals in five games at the Toulon Tournament, with a brace against Paraguay and a goal in the 2-1 win over hosts France in the final to secure the accolade of this summer’s top performer.

But he admits football wasn’t always this serious for him and he honed his skills playing for fun with his friends growing up in south London and Kent prior to joining Chelsea’s academy.

"I would say up until about 12-years-old I was just doing it for fun of it, just playing football," he revealed.

"I didn't think there was anything serious at that moment, but once I got to about 13 or 14-years-old then my parents said 'if you're going to do this, you need to put your mind to it and really go for it,’ so I decided to do that and I'm here now."

Watch the full video with Ruben, featuring contributions from U21s boss Gareth Southgate and Chelsea team-mate Nathaniel Chalobah, in the media player below.

By Nicholas Veevers