Reece James is one of Chelsea’s brightest stars.
The 21-year-old talent broke into the first team last year and has already played his first game in England.
His father, Nigel James, and former Wigan manager Paul Cook told his story of his struggle phase.
His talent was natural
Nigel James: ” He would sit in his boot and gloves whenever he was with his friends or brother in the garden. You would find him in the goal.
“They would be there early in the morning, at nine. Also, come in for food and drink and then come back.
“He showed great strength in football. He did a lot of things without thinking. It was natural.
“He struggled to take instructions at a young age. However, as long as you let him in his arms and play naturally. He would do things and think, wow!”
We knew we had great talent.
After passing the Chelsea ranks, James had his first taste of football in 2018 when he joined Wigan Athletic on loan.
Paul Cook: “We needed to cover Nathan in the right place and bring in a young Chelsea man. Who hasn’t played football yet, an option we thought was right for everyone.”
James: ” None was willing to give him a chance in the Championship League. Only three clubs were promoted to League One, and it was Rotherham, Blackburn Rovers, and Wigan.
We jumped in the car and made a few calls. All three wanted to see him and were happy to take him. After that, we went to Wigan.
And they just finished us off. On the first day, Paul Cook, all his staff, chairman, football director, and had a lot of experience with Reece.
It sounded warm and comfortable to think that he would be the first to travel and be 200 miles from home.”
Cook: “We finished the first day of training. The staff sat down to have tea together to discuss how it went.
Moreover, we all said let’s wait until tomorrow to make sure that what we saw was not a stumbling block.
From the first minute, Reece was an outstanding footballer. He was remarkable in everything he did, in the way he behaved.
How he trained, and the way he played. It was clear to us – very quickly – that we had outstanding talent in our hands.”
James’ resurrection in Wigan
James’ time in Wigan was a great success.
He was a club player of the season and made the Championship team of the year.
Cook: “Reece was a good boy. He was a good man. Since he initially came with his father.
To look for a place to exercise and talk to me. He just behaved well. He left a wonderful record for everyone who has a connection with Wigan Athletic.”
His flexibility and return to Chelsea
James returned to Chelsea and scored for the first time in the Carabao Cup.
Under Frank Lampard‘s leadership, he became the youngest scorer in the Champions League and signed a new long-term contract in January 2020.
He could hold many positions on the Chelsea team.
Cook: “The reason we were probably moving him a little was that he was outstanding in each area.
If we had something that we felt was a place, we could improve. Whether that would be a central defender or a full-back or midfielder, Reece would go in there to be our outstanding player.
“Looking at his quality, his wide range of defense. Moreover, I think he’s right back, maybe in his best position, his delivery of the ball.
In today’s game, playing as a midfielder, This will be at Chelsea’s power to decide now, but Reece will not let anyone down when he plays. there. ”
James: “I liked the way Cook and his staff have put Reece in the middle of the pitch. But not to mention that people judged him before the game.
He just slipped into the middle of the pitch without anyone knowing. You got in there, and you did well. You got the ball and took it off.”
James’ form led to Gareth Southgate’s first England call-up to England, and he made his international debut last October. Replacing Kieran Trippier in the second leg of their 3-0 win over Wales Wembley.
In his short time with England, he impressed Southgate and won four caps.
A promising future is costing the club. And the country, but has kept the feet down during the rapid rise.
James: “she’s the same as she was younger. She could see that she was very calm and reticent. Moreover, she was focused and knew what she wanted. It’s Reece.
We have a good relationship. I have always been straightforward and honest. Also, I tell how I feel. She has taken things very well.
I just gave him the rope to grow up as a young man. But I am by his side, making sure he makes the right decisions. So far, it has been good.
When he plays, I also kick all the balls with him. I run with him. As for being Reece, he’s the same.”