Where Are They Now? The 09/10 FA Youth Cup Winners

Full of potential and full of promise, the 2009/10 Chelsea FA Youth Cup winning squad was Chelsea’s first youth team to win the title since the 1960 and 1961 team that included future Chelsea stars Ron Harris, Bobby Tambling, Peter Bonetti and Terry Venables. They followed it up the next season by winning the reserve league a year later. Despite this incredible crop of talent, none of the players have left their mark on the first team.

First Team

Sam Walker-GK (22): Colchester United

Plucked from Millwall’s academy, Walker looked to be a promising talent, allowing just three goals the entire tournament. Walker remains a Chelsea player with his contract set to expire in June. Despite his early success at Chelsea, he was never able to make a breakthrough during many of his loan spells, which included loans to teams like Barnet, Northampton Town, Yeovil Town, Bristol Rovers and Colchester United. This season has been his best to date as he has seen a lot of playing time with League One’s Colchester, but it seems highly unlikely that the once-promising keeper will be brought back at the end of his contract.

Billy Clifford-RB (21): Chelsea Reserves

Billy Clifford began his Chelsea career at the age of 7 and spent most of his career at right back. Given his highly successful performances in the tournament, Billy was offered his first professional contract and a spot on Ancelotti’s bench for a Champions League fixture against Spartak Moscow. Billy never saw the pitch but continued performing well at the youth level, earning him a contract extension through 2015. First came a loan to Colchester, where he had a decent season, but he followed it up with an unsuccessful spell at Yeovil Town. Billy has played a few games for the reserves this season but the end of his contract will spell the end of his Chelsea career.

Rohan Ince-CB (21): Brighton & Hove Albion

Another long time youth player, Ince also began his Chelsea career at the age of 7. Just like Billy he was also rewarded with a professional contract after the trophy winning campaign. Unfortunately for Ince he was hampered by injuries that made it hard for him to retain his place on the reserves. Yeovil took Ince on loan at the beginning of last season but cut the deal short after he was injured again. Chelsea terminated his contract in January 2013 in the hopes that it would allow him to find a new team. Ince now plays for Brighton and has had a great year for the club, earning a regular spot on the first team.

Jeffrey Bruma-CB (22): PSV

Even Chelsea supporters that do not follow the youth team are familiar with Bruma as he flirted with a spot on Chelsea’s first team for a few years. Bruma was signed from Feyenoord at the age of 15 and quickly established himself as one of the best players in the academy. Ancelotti was a fan of Bruma and included him on the bench for a few games as he earned 9 appearances for the first team by the age of 20. Bruma even earned his first cap for the Netherlands while playing at Chelsea. With Terry, Luiz, Alex and Ivanovic all ahead of him, Chelsea sent Bruma out on loan to Leicester where he had a decent spell, including a few spectacular goals. The following season he was sent to Hamburger SV in Germany for a two year loan to join former Chelsea Sporting Director Frank Arnesen. His second season stalled and HSV elected not to buy him so Chelsea sold him to PSV for €3m with an option to buy him back. Bruma has had a solid season for PSV as their first choice centre back.

Aziz Deen-Conteh-LB (20): Ergotelis

Brought to Chelsea at age 13 from Waterloo FC, Deen-Conteh always had a unique journey through Chelsea. With injuries to various players, Deen-Conteh was played all over the pitch as a utility player. After finally nailing down a starting spot, Deen-Conteh earned himself a few caps for the England U19 side and a professional contract. He struggled to earn playing time and Chelsea were unable to find clubs interested in taking him on loan. At the end of his contract in 2013, Chelsea let him go. He went on trial at Millwall but it was unsuccessful, leading him to sign with Greek club Ergotelis. He has also been called up several times for his birth nation of Sierra Leone.

Conor Clifford-CM (22): Southend United

Captain Conor Clifford was spotted playing for Irish team Crumlin United and was brought on by Chelsea in 2007 where he quickly earned a scholarship. Conor captained the youth side to the win and scored the winner against Aston Villa. The following season he began his journey of loan spells at Plymouth Argyle. Conor played well but Plymouth were unable to afford bringing him back and instead he was sent to Notts where he struggled. That was followed by loans to Yeovil, Portsmouth and Crawley Town before Chelsea elected to terminate his contract early. Conor has since moved to Southend United in League Two and is having his best season to date.

Jacopo Sala-RM (22)- Verona

Brought in from Atalanta in 2007, Sala started out slowly and failed to remain consistent during his first few years at Chelsea. Chelsea used Sala as a utility player in an attempt to find his best position, settling on the right in the midfield. After his performance in the youth cup, Sala was seen as a possible prospect for the future but was another of Arnesen’s recruits to HSV. He signed a three year contract before he was sold to Verona in the summer of 2013.

Aliu Djalo-CM (21): Martimo B

Djalo, or Kaby, as he is more commonly referred, was another recruit in 2007 from Boavista. Highly scouted, Kaby was considered to be an exceptional individual player but struggled working together with the rest of the team. Kaby took a long time to adapt to the English game but became one of Chelsea’s better reserve players following the youth cup. Kaby never broke through to the next level and was allowed to leave in 2012 where he first joined Limassol before unsuccessful trials with Red Star Belgrade and Yeovil. Kaby now plays on the B team of Martimo in Portugal’s second division.

Gokhan Tore-LM (21): Besiktas

Signed the same year Chelsea won the youth cup, Tore was always a hard working and ambitious player. Tore was one of the best players in the academy and seemed to get better each year with calls for first team appearances from Chelsea supporters. Despite never making an appearance for Chelsea, Tore was on the fringes of first team opportunities but was ultimately another one of Arnesen’s HSV recruits. Tore would have a great first season at HSV before they sold him to Rubin Kazan in the Russian League. With the sale to Kazan, Chelsea picked up half the money (since they still owned half his contract rights) before he was loaned out to Turkish powerhouse Besiktas. Tore has already been capped 19 times for Turkey and is arguably the most successful player from the cup winning squad. He also said in the summer of 2013 that he would be back at Chelsea some day.

Josh McEachran- CAM (20): Watford

Once the most promising player in Chelsea’s academy, McEachran is now the example of Chelsea’s inability to transform their academy stars into first team players. Joining Chelsea from Garden City at age 11, McEachran became one of Chelsea’s most coveted academy players ever. McEachran was the biggest bright spot on the cup winning squad and was added to the first team by Ancelotti, earning 17 appearances the season after their trophy. McEachran played exceptionally well for the first team and many lobbied to give him a permanent spot in the first XI. The sacking of Ancelotti proved to be a roadblock, as Andre Villas-Boas was not keen on McEachran and it limited his first team opportunities. McEachran was sent to join former academy manager (and now Liverpool manager) Brendan Rodgers at Swansea. McEachran was unable to secure a regular first team spot and the loan was seen as a failure. The following season he was sent to the Championship with Middlesbrough where he began in fine form before the team began struggling. Middlesbrough said that they had no interest in bringing him back and he was loaned to Watford instead. McEachran has struggled at Watford and his future has become a major discussion point.

Marko Mitrovic-ST (21): Brescia

Mitrovic’s comments after his departure are something Chelsea supporters have been preaching for years – the board in more interested in spending than giving their youth a chance. Mitrovic scored goals in bundles for Chelsea and was the team’s leading scorer during their cup run. Once again, injuries were the reason Mitrovic never saw the first team. A seven month injury ruled him out for most of the 2010/11 season and more injuries limited his playing time. Chelsea let his contract expire in 2012. Mitrovic has since moved to Serie B side Brescia where he was a first team regular before injuries hampered his season again.

Subs

Milan Lalkovic (21)- Lalkovic is still a Chelsea player currently on loan at League One side Walsall. His loan was successful as Walsall extended it until the end of the season in which his contract with Chelsea expires.

Aldi Haxhia (22)- Haxhia was let go right after Chelsea’s victory and has since moved to Kettering and now plays for Bishop’s Stortford in the Football Conference.

George Saville (20)- Saville went on loan in early 2013 after playing well for the reserves. He has since gone on loan to Brentford where they have extended his loan until the end of the season. His contract is set to expire at the end of the season.

Ben Sampayo (21)- Sampayo was released at the end of his Chelsea scholarship and moved to Brighton the year after. He now plays for Chelmsford City in Conference South.

Anton Rodgers (20)- Rodgers signed for Brighton after being released by Chelsea in 2011. He now plays for Oldham Athletic in League One.

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