Reece James has revealed he was on the verge of being released by Chelsea as a teenager.
The right-back signed for the Blues at the age of eight and has since become a key player for the senior side.
Now 23-years-old, James is one of the club’s most successful academy graduates and one of the first names on the teamsheet for boss Graham Potter.
But James, who enjoyed a spell on loan at Wigan, has opened up on how he was almost let go by the west London outfit.
Speaking to the England website, he said: “I ended up staying at Chelsea the whole time once I joined, but there was probably a stage where I was close to getting released around the age of 15 or 16.
“I was probably one of the worst in the group and they were unsure of how I was going to develop.
“They took a gamble on me by giving me a contract and I had to work hard to prove to people that I can play and achieve what I want to achieve.”
And Chelsea have reaped the rewards of handing the Three Lions international a professional deal.
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James made his senior debut for Chelsea in September 2019 – a Carabao Cup tie against Grimsby Town in which he also scored his first goal.
He made a further 36 appearances during the rest of the season where he established himself as a vital player despite his tender age.
The following campaign saw him win the Champions League having played a crucial role in the final against Manchester City.
Super Cup and Club World Cup success would follow, but injuries have hindered further progression in the last few months.
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