Over the last couple of decades, Chelsea’s academy graduates have found it difficult to break into the star-studded first team. But the return of club legend, Frank Lampard, this time at the helm, has changed all that, with youth finally being given the opportunity to shine. And one of the players that is reaping the benefits of this new philosophy is 20-year old Mason Mount.

Lampard and Mount have already forged a strong working relationship having worked together last season at Derby County in the Championship. And the former obviously liked what he saw, having no hesitation in throwing the latter in at the deep end for the opening game of this season, ahead of new star signing Christian Pulisic. It’s a sign of massive confidence, but it’s a gamble that has so far paid off; Mount repaying the Chelsea manager’s faith with two goals in the Blues’ opening four matches. 

Mount's attacking style has inevitably drawn comparisons with his idol and the man he now calls ‘gaffer’, and when we met up with the youngster he was keen to stress how much he was enjoying working with Lampard and how much he was learning. Decked out in the new retro-inspired Chelsea third kit, the conversation flowed easily as he chatted about his journey so far, the benefits of time out on loan, and being wary of Declan Rice’s revenge.


Mason, you were on loan at Derby last season and now you’ve signed a new deal with Chelsea. What’s this last year been like for you?

It’s been a bit of a crazy year. Being at Derby and working with the gaffer, it was brilliant, working with him and learning from him. I played a lot and that was obviously the goal when I went there, to play and to get minutes, so it was brilliant. And now, coming back to Chelsea, I’m enjoying the season so far.

Before that you were with Vitesse in the Netherlands. Do you feel like you’ve had to grow up quite quickly, with the move abroad?

Yeah. The move to Holland, I was 18 when that happened. My mum came out with me for the first week to help me settle in. But it’s all down to yourself and growing up and you’re going into men’s football at 18 years old in a different country, so it’s different. I had to learn from that and grow up very quickly.

Who inspired you as you were growing up?

Obviously Frank Lampard was always one that I looked at, being at Chelsea and being a midfielder myself. When I was younger and watching the Premier League, Modric at Tottenham, I always loved the way he played and he was always a massive player for Tottenham, so I watched him a lot. Then there’s Iniesta and Xavi running Barcelona’s midfield. They’re all players that I’ve looked up to and tried to base my game around.

What do you think a loan teaches you and what did you get from that experience?

I think it teaches you a lot. Going to Holland was the best move for me. I learnt so much while I was out there. It helps you grow up and mature very quickly. You’re having to live on your own and learn how to cook and all of that, so when you do come back you’re ready for that side of things. The English league is totally different, but it gets you ready for that too. I would say to any young player that if you get the chance to go out on loan, whether it’s to another country or still in England, you should go and do it.

Was it a case of all of a sudden you’re in the men’s game?

The Dutch league wasn’t as bad in that sense, I wasn't getting smashed everywhere, that didn’t really happen that much. It was mostly nice football. But straight into the Championship and it was a totally different story. Players are looking to kick you. I‘ve had a couple of experiences where players have just targeted me straight from the first whistle. They see you as a young player and they think that they can get into your head, so it’s all learning. In games is where you learn the most though, playing against these experienced players and learning off them. The Championship is a crazy league though. You’re playing loads and loads of games, it’s tough.


Do you relish that sort of challenge of someone getting at you?

Yeah, I won’t say what game or who it was, but we played a game at home and that was the first thing, this guy just targeted me and kicked me. I think it was a throw in and he kicked me from just out of nowhere. Then we played on and I think 30 minutes in I scored and I went straight to him and he didn’t say anything else after that. You learn from what people do and you keep it in your mind. My dad always used to say if someone does something to you, keep it in your mind and try and get them back. So I got this guy back. Not physically, but scoring a goal against his team.

What was it like getting the call from Frank Lampard to go to Derby?

Yeah, it was alright. I had a lot of interest. I could have gone abroad again or into another team in England, but obviously I know Jody [Morris] as well and he said ‘look, just don’t rush into anything and keep your options open, because I think something may be coming up.’ And then I got the call from the gaffer and they said they wanted a meeting. After that meeting I didn’t really have any plan in my mind other than going to Derby and working with him, because he's an idol, a role model that I’ve always looked up to, and to have him as my manager was the best option.

For Chelsea fans he means so much. When he enters a room, what goes through your head?

I’ve started getting used to it now, but at the beginning when I first joined it was a bit overwhelming, listening to him and trying to learn from him in meetings and on the training pitch. If he calls you over and says to run into the box in a different way or time your runs into the box differently, then for me there’s no other person that I could learn as much from.

Learning from him last year at Derby, do you feel that you developed even quicker?

Definitely. I think my game overall, physically, tactically, I think it definitely improved and that came from working with him and playing in the Championship. I think that was a big thing that helped me grow up and mature as a player on and off the pitch. Last season was a massive boost to my career.

Going back to Chelsea and back with Frank now as well, you’ve already had a year to show him what you can do…

It obviously helps working with a manager for a whole year, knowing how he works, knowing how he wants to play day in, day out, knowing what he wants in training; it’s obviously good for me having that kind of advantage I’d say, going into this season. I was very happy for him to come back to Chelsea – he’s a legend. And for me to work under him again is great, now I have to work hard to get into the team, because that’s my goal; I want to play for Chelsea so I’m trying to work hard and it’s been going well.

The Championship was a totally different story. Players are looking to kick you. I had a couple of experiences where players just targeted me straight from the first whistle. They see you as a young player and they think that they can get into your head"

How has your approach to this season been different compared to last season?

I think the training is obviously very similar, but I think it’s a different feel and everyone’s working very, very hard, because this is the Premier League and it’s the best league in the world, with some of the best teams and the best players. So the way we have been working has been very good, and it’s been very tough. But we know what the level is like in the Premier League and we’re working towards that.

Do you feel like you play better when you’re happy?

I think if you’re more relaxed then that helps. Enjoying the occasion and enjoying the game. My dad always said to me that I play better when I’m angry, but it doesn’t really happen much, because I’m the way I am; I just like to play with a smile on my face and enjoy. But obviously if someone kicks you or starts something then you come out of that happy state and you go into an angry one. But when I’m on the pitch, I love being on the pitch and playing football. I’ve always loved that, so I always have a smile on my face.

You’re part of a generation with the likes of Hudson-Odoi, Tammy Abraham – how would you describe this generation?

Coming through the academy I feel that you have that different kind of fire to want to make it into the first team. Looking throughout the years there’s not been a bundle of players that have made it into the first team, so when you’re growing up you have that different goal to want to make it to show that they’re wrong about Chelsea and about players coming through the academy and not making it. We have got the ability and there are players coming through now that will break into the first team. It’s brilliant for the academy and for all the coaches that work in the academy, knowing that they’ve worked with players that are going to play for Chelsea one day. It’s brilliant, we’re all together and we’re all working hard toward the same goal: to break into Chelsea’s first team and win trophies.

What would it mean to you to hear Chelsea fans singing your name?

It already happened at Reading in pre-season. I scored two and they were singing my Derby song. It’s followed me from Derby. So they started singing that at Reading. From being at the club at six, that’s what you dream of, your own fans singing your name. It was brilliant. Hopefully back at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League it can happen again.

After that meeting I didn’t really have any plan in my mind other than going to Derby and working with him, because he's an idol, a role model that I’ve always looked up to."

You’re probably getting to the stage where you’re getting recognised out on the street. What’s that like? Have you had any funny or weird experiences yet?

Not really. Just people coming up and talking and wanting a picture and that. That’s what it’s like at the moment. I don’t mind any of that. It’s just the fans. I always want to speak to the fans and interact, find out how they’re feeling and that. It’s brilliant.

You’ve signed that five year deal with Chelsea now. Does that feel like all your hard work up until now has paid off?

Yeah, at six years old my goal was always to play for Chelsea. To now get a lengthy contract and know that I’m here now and this is my home and I can build on pre-season, and I can build on these last two seasons being out on loan and all the experience I gained, I can bring it into this season and try to work my way into the team. Obviously there’s superstars in this team, so it’s going to be tough, but working with them day in, day out at training is the best thing for me.

One of your best pals is Declan Rice, that video of you scaring him in the summer went mad! What’s it been like going through your journey with a player like him?

We’ve both been on different paths, with him being released by Chelsea and going to West Ham, and look what he’s done now, he’s worked his way through the academy and into the first team and into the England team. I’d always say to look at him as an example. You get released by a big club and some people think that it’s over, but with him and his mentality and the way that he was as a boy, he always wanted to work hard and he knew what he could do. Nothing really got him down. I’ve always kept in contact with him and we’re really close friends, so we always have that joke and that laugh. I got him really well in that video and I think he’ll be looking to try and get me back.

For this season then, what’s the one thing that you want to achieve?

I always speak to my dad and try to set goals. For this season, 10 goals. Double figure goals and assists. To try and play as many games as I can, and it starts in pre-season, where you have to show the manager what you can do. I always set goals at the beginning of the season to try and reach them and I did that last season and the season before that, so, yeah, this season I want to score as many goals as I can and try to win as many games as I can.


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