Chelsea youngster Dujon Sterling was in town as Nike launched the White Shirt Project to explore the diverse cultural relevance of the England shirt. In partnership with Tottenham Textiles, Nike Football identified 11 fearless and progressive communities, athletes, artists and fans to create their own bespoke jerseys.

Using the back of the shirt as a blank canvas, Sterling was able to tell his personal story on a shirt he wears as part of his work uniform. We caught up with the Chelsea and England man to reflect on a busy year, on what's to come, and to talk us through his Nike White Shirt Project design.


Dujon, tell us about the shirt you’ve created here?

My creation for the Nike White Shirt Project is split down the middle, with one side representing my career at Chelsea and the other side England. Each element reflects the key moments in my life and career so far, from growing up as a young boy in my local area, to where I am now.

The Chelsea side of the shirt includes my first FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League win at 16 and also our recent League win which meant we won all four trophies available to us this season. The England side includes my debut at under 15 and win at last summer’s UEFA European Under-19 Championship win.

The shirt as a whole represents my journey and hopefully it will inspire young kids to achieve great things too. I’ve also left elements of the shirt unfinished, as my aim is to reach the highest level but I know I still having a long way to go. 

You’ve been involved in the England set up since you were very young. What does it mean to you to represent the country?

It’s a huge honor for me. I take inspiration from proving everyone that’s ever doubted me wrong, anyone that’s said you’re not good enough. When I pull on the England shirt, it feels like I’m representing my family, friends and all of the coaches and people that have supported me since the age of 6. It’s such a proud feeling. 

Can you remember your first game for England? How did you feel when you walked into the changing room and saw the shirt hanging up? 

Ask anyone, when you put on that England shirt it makes you feel like you’re in a different world, it makes you feel like you’re better than you actually are, I feel unstoppable and fearless, like no one can touch me! It’s the best feeling.


More recently you won the Under-19’s European Championship with England. How was that experience like? 

It was such a special moment for me and the team. It wasn’t just about winning the tournament but it was also the fact I won it with my teammates at Chelsea and players from other teams that I grew up with. So many of us grew up in the same area of London, it was unbelievable to think that we achieved something so special together. It’s something that every young footballer in this country aspires to do, hopefully we showed other young England teams and players dreaming of becoming footballers that you can be the best. 

Can you sense the pride in playing for England when you’re part of a team doing well in a tournament like that?

One of the reasons we felt so proud and wanted to do so well in the tournament was the fans that travelled out to see us play. We understood how much of a commitment it was for all of them, some of the fans had family’s back home but still flew out. We wanted to put on a show for them, having spent so much money flying out and supporting us. 

Was there an added sense of encouragement to give England something to be positive about? The senior team have struggled in recent tournaments…

We used the under 20’s World Cup win as motivation. The whole country was talking about their achievement and also about them being the only team to win tournaments, we wanted to put down our own stamp of authority. I also personally perform better under pressure, our overall mentality is that winning one isn’t enough, I want to keep winning. Every tournament I enter I want to win.


You’ve been at Chelsea practically your whole life. You signed your first professional contract on your 17th birthday. How much did that mean to you?

It was a special moment because it reminded me of my journey from when I was 7 up to 17, it’s been a lot of hard work and dedication from all of the people around me – it’s always nice to give something back to them. I also signed a second pro contract at 18, so will keep aspiring to do improve and continue signing new contract’s and play regularly for the first team.

It must be a stressful time at that age wondering whether that professional contract will come. Did you find it a bit nerve racking, can you sense that from everyone else?

No, when I got rewarded by the club it just motivated me to play better. I’m always confident in my ability, hopefully young kids will see the trophies on the shirt I designed for the White Shirt Project and think I can be a European champion, FA Youth Cup or Champions League etc. I want little kids to see the shirt and be inspired to work harder to get to where they want to be.

There’s a new era of England teams coming through. England teams that winning things. How would describe the atmosphere around St George’s Park amongst the youth teams?

I just think that when we play we know that the opposition is afraid of us, we’re not afraid to play anybody. Especially with our teams now winning tournaments. We feel like we’re the team to beat now, everyone wants to beat England. Hopefully other teams like Spain, Germany and Brazil see the white of the England shirt and think we’re the team to beat. 


The 11 designs that have been created for the Nike England White Shirt Project will be featured as part of an exhibition from May 25th – 31st in the Cube on display at Nike Town London. The elevens designs belong to Dujon Sterling, Bugzy Malone, Big Zuu, London Football Journey, Football Beyond Boarders, Hackney Laces, Caricom Magazine, Season Zine, Owen Bainbridge, The Hidden Jewels, and Baiteze Squad.


Photography by Ossi Piispanenossi for SoccerBible.