Ben Chilwell believes Chelsea are thriving due to an absence of egos and insists he never questioned his own abilities during a frustrating start to the season.
England defender Chilwell did not play a minute of his country’s run to the Euro 2020 final in the summer and was subsequently overlooked for his club’s opening six Premier League games.
The 24-year-old, who was initially kept out of the Blues’ starting XI by Marcos Alonso, is back in favour at Stamford Bridge and has seized his chance by netting three times in four top-flight outings, in addition to a maiden international goal last month.
Chilwell is preparing for the Champions League holders’ trip to Swedish club Malmo on Tuesday evening and feels he is reaping the rewards of patience and determination.
“It is obviously frustrating because as a footballer you want to be playing week in, week out,” he said of the early weeks of the campaign.
“When you’ve got a squad like we do here at Chelsea, with 20, 25 world-class players and two or three fighting in every position, you’ve got to understand you’re not going to play every match and just to support the group.
“(There were) no doubts at all (during that period). As a footballer you have to have confidence in your own ability.
“I was just keen that I would train hard every day so that when I did get my opportunity I’d give my manager a headache and that’s all I could do really.
“When you come off the back of a Euros in your home country, of course everyone’s going to be disappointed when they don’t play in that.
“But coming back to Chelsea, I felt I was in a good place to help the team but of course Marcos started the season very well, was here for the whole of pre-season and had a great start to the season.
“I knew I had to be patient and bide my time.
“And I think that’s a sign of the fact we’ve got such a strong group that’s doing well at the moment because there are no egos in this squad; there is a group of players that want to work hard for the manager, work hard for the club and for each other and whoever gets their opportunity they’re ready.”
Chelsea sit three points clear at the top of the Premier League following Saturday’s resounding 3-0 win at Newcastle.
Remarkably, Chilwell – who managed three goals in each of his past two top-flight campaigns – had scored in the previous three league outings before the trip to St James’ Park.
The former Leicester man, who arrived in west London for a reported £45million in the summer of 2020, is enjoying being deployed as an attacking left wing-back in manager Thomas Tuchel’s flowing 3-4-2-1 system.
“Scoring goals as a defender isn’t something I get to do a lot,” said Chilwell, who played the full 90 minutes of May’s Champions League final win over Manchester City.
“When I do score it’s a nice feeling and thankfully last month I was able to help the team with a few goals, got my first goal for England, which was an amazing feeling as well.
“And I think that’s part of my game that the manager now has helped me with most and improved me most – just getting the opportunities in and around the box to be more of a goal threat and contribute more with goals and assists in the team.
“With the way the manager wants us to play, we do spend more time in attacking positions.”