Callum Hudson-Odoi was inspired to become a Chelsea high-flyer by his time as a starry-eyed kid on plane journeys with the first team.
The 19-year-old England winger is among a clutch of academy graduates – along with Fikayo Tomori and Mason Mount – taking flight in the Premier League under manager Frank Lampard.
Hudson-Odoi lifted the Premier League Under-18 title in 2017 as well as back-to-back FA Youth Cups during his time in the Blues academy.
In January 2018 he was handed his senior debut and last September he signed a five-year deal worth £100,000 a week as Chelsea fended off interest from Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.
And Hudson-Odoi has revealed he was inspired to succeed by the professionalism of his senior Blues team-mates on European trips.
“Just to travel with them and see them coming on the plane, it’s like ‘wow’ because you want to be like them,” he said.
“You look at them as big role models.
“I got my inspiration by looking up to the Chelsea players. I would think to myself that one day I could be on the pitch playing alongside some of them.”
Hudson-Odoi has been motivated in particular by the chance to play under his childhood idol, Chelsea legend Lampard.
“I always thought to myself that he would be a good manager because of the way he used to lead on the pitch when he was playing,” he added. “You could tell that he demanded a lot from the players he was playing with.
“It’s an amazing feeling to know that an ex-player, an ex-legend, has come back to the club and has the opportunity to work for the club, and we’re working under him.”
Before the season was thrown into disarray by the coronavirus pandemic, Lampard’s patience – along with that of his assistant Jody Morris – had seen Chelsea on course to defy the odds and finish in the Champions League slots.
Hudson-Odoi paid tribute to their powers of motivation after the club were prevented from making any signings last summer because of a transfer ban.
“Jody has a great bond with the Academy, he knows all the players and all the staff over there,” Hudson-Odoi said. “I think he knows when they’re ready to come up and when they’re ready to train and be involved.
“He’s helped bring all the players up and he’s made everybody aware that, if you’re doing well and working hard in training, then you’ll get the opportunity to play.
“It gives you a special feeling to work extra hard because you want to be playing in games, you want to be playing in any match possible.
“You just have the feeling that, if Jody’s there, he’s going to try and push the young players to come through.”
The teenager is now driven to earn the right to play in next season’s elite European competition.
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