Despite not being injured, Ben Chilwell has not played for England or Chelsea since the Champions League final. Why? Thomas Tuchel provides insights.
Since the Champions League triumph only bench press: Ben Chilwell (right, next to coach Thomas Tuchel).
picture alliance/imago images
Ben Chilwell (24) will certainly have known that there is a risk of falling into a hole after the greatest success of his career. But why did it have to be a crater?
It was May 29th when photos were taken showing the Chelsea FC left-back with the Champions League trophy. And he was not in any museum, but had just actually won it, in his only twelfth Champions League appearance, which he also experienced in the starting XI. Chilwell, who only came from Leicester at the beginning of the season, had made it to the top of Europe’s stage, and a few days later he had his place in England’s final EM squad.
But football is actually as fast-paced as it is always portrayed: Chilwell did not play a minute at the European Championship and to this day he has not played at Chelsea either. Suddenly he was out, even though he wasn’t injured, ill or suspended.
Tuchel: “When he got here, he looked mentally tired to me”
“It was really difficult for him,” said Thomas Tuchel on Monday when he first spoke in detail about Chilwell’s situation. The fact that this was not allowed to play a role on England’s way to the European Championship final was a “strange feeling” for him: “You don’t really feel part of the team if you never wear your jersey.” First national coach Gareth Southgate had preferred Kieran Trippier, then always Luke Shaw on the left.
And Chilwell evidently never got rid of this low blow. While on vacation, “it was difficult for him to relax completely and to get his personal disappointment off his shoulders,” said Tuchel. “When he got here, he looked mentally tired to me.”
And because Marcos Alonso, his rival at Chelsea, took part in the entire preparation and “took his chance with great quality and attitude” (Tuchel), Chilwell suddenly lost his regular place in the club, which he had gradually regained after Tuchel took over . And Southgate didn’t even nominate him for the internationals in September.
Chilwell’s first outing since May beckons against Zenit
In conversations, he made it clear to him that he would have acted the same way the other way around, explained Tuchel. His advice to “Chilly”: “He has to be a little patient and keep training. We had to give him a little time to become more patient with himself again, to regain joy and to find everything on the pitch a little easier.” Chilwell shouldn’t “want to force it too much”.
In the Champions League opening game of the defending champion against Zenit St. Petersburg on Tuesday (9 p.m., LIVE! At kicker), Chilwell is now apparently waving the first minutes of action since May. “He is in the race, his situation has changed,” said Tuchel. “He’s in good shape, mentally and on the pitch.”