For Frank Lampard, 18-year-old Billy Gilmour’s ability has never been in question, with the Chelsea manager not hesitating to call upon the diminutive Scot when needed. And that faith has been repaid in spades, most recently with a man-of-the-match performance in Chelsea’s 2-0 FA Cup fifth round win against runaway league leaders Liverpool.

Gilmour is the latest academy graduate to be given a chance under Lampard, following in the footsteps of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Reece James and Fikayo Tomori in breaking into the Chelsea first team. His fresh face belies a steely resolve; you would not be surprised to see him walking out of school with his friends – Gilmour looks young even for 18 – and yet this is a man who set the tempo for a dominant display by Chelsea against the European champions.  

Ready to push on after his stand out performance against Liverpool, we sat down with Billy to talk about his break into the first team, playing under Lampard, and how he found out he was making his first start for the club.

Billy, congratulations on your performance in the FA Cup against Liverpool. How would you describe your season so far?

It’s been really good. I’ve had a lot of experiences with the first team and to start in the FA Cup against Liverpool and get the win to go through to the next round was massive for me! I’m enjoying it all. I’m getting a lot of experience training with the first team and hopefully there will be more to come.

What was going through your head when you were told you would start against Liverpool in the FA Cup?

I was nervous as it was such a big game. We got through to the next round and it was a great night for me individually. I learned a lot and it was great that my family were there to see it. Thinking back it was all a bit of a blur, but I’ve done it, and now and I can push on with that under my belt.


When you see players like Tammy and Mason Mount coming into the first team and they look so at home, does that give you and other players coming through and extra feeling that you can make it?

Yeah, the youngsters that have been featuring regularly in the first team like Mason, Tammy, Fikayo, Reece have definitely proven to the younger players that there’s an opportunity to grasp if you keep working hard. We’ve seen how well they’ve done and how they’ve made that jump from youth football to first team and that gives me hope that I can do that too. When you go to training you’re not just a number, you’re one of the players and you’re there for a reason. The door to the first team appearances feels open and that’s why I think it’s such a positive atmosphere to play in.

And to be part of an event like this for adidas, that must be a little bit surreal, but that’s what comes from being a Predator footballer as well?

It’s really good to be a part of it. It’s kind of the same as being part of the first team in a way, it’s just a really good experience that gets you used to the whole spectacle of being part of a Premier League team. My first ever pair of boots were Predators that I wore them for my first club. They had the tongue and that, they were so sick. So to see what the boot has progressed into, and to wear them as an adidas player is incredible.

How big of a role has Lampard played in your development this season?

Honestly, he’s been massive for me. Not only has he given me the opportunity to make my debut and go on to get even more minutes, he’s also put so much trust in me which has given me so much confidence. I’m very grateful to him for having that trust in me, and I think you can see with the other young players how much they enjoy playing for him.

What's it like playing for a player you would’ve watched growing up on TV?

He was a top player in his day, everyone knows that. If you think of scoring goals from midfield then you just picture the gaffer getting into the box and rifling one into the net. Obviously the fact that he was a player I looked up to helps with him being my manager, but even if he wasn’t a player I think the effect would still be the same with the confidence he puts into me.

"Hazard was at my first training session with the first team. He’s a world-class player, so to train with him was something else, it was a serious step up. He’s so quick, sharp and strong – I loved it"

When you signed for Chelsea you would’ve seen it as a route to first team football. Do you feel like you’re currently ahead of your plan?

Yeah, I had a plan to come down and do two seasons in the 18s and two in the 23s, but I played one season in the 18s and two in the 23s. And now it’s been really good that I’ve been involved with the first team quite a lot. I’ve gained a lot of experience on and off the pitch so I’m happy with how I’ve progressed so far.

What was your first training session with the first team like, can you remember it?

I think it was my second season at chelsea. I think Sarri was the manager at the time. It was great. Hazard was at my first training session with the first team. He’s a world-class player, so to train with him was something else, it was a serious step up. He’s so quick, sharp and strong – I loved it.

You’ve previously mentioned that you received a text from Lampard saying that you were going to train with the first team, and then just before the session he announced that you were going to be in the starting 11 for the Grimsby game. What was that like?

Yeah, me and a boy called Marc [Guehi] went over to train. We got a text saying to go over and after the warm up it was rondos, and the third coach, Joe Edwards, was standing there and he read out different players into each box and he came over and he said “this box better be sharp, this is the starting team.” Me and Marc just kind of looked at each other and just thought this is serious. We didn’t talk about it until after the session, and then we went into the changing room and we were buzzing. Bit nervous too, but really excited.

That was the cup game against Grimsby. How did the game go, did you enjoy it?

I loved it. I started, played the full game and obviously we won 7-1, so it was a really good game altogether. Big win under the lights at Stamford Bridge, it couldn’t have gone any better really.

What’s it like in the build up to a first team game when you know that you’re going to be a part of it, is it a lot different to the under 23s?

No, I treat it the same to be honest. I have the same pre-match meal, listen to the same music, I don’t change anything really. If you overthink things or change your routine I think it can throw you out of your stride a bit.

View this post on Instagram

🩸⚫️🩸 @adidasfootball #Predator #Createdwithadidas

A post shared by B C G (@billygilmourrr) on

Moving into the second half of the season, you must feel like you’ve developed massively as a player and as a person as well?

Yeah, it feels like I’m getting stronger. When you play with the first team you learn so much quicker. You have to be sharper, and make sure you’re always up to the pace of the game.

You’ve signed a new contract recently, but does it now feel like this is when the hard work begins, that this is almost the first chapter in a way?

Yeah, just signed a four-year contract, and this is basically where it gets real. I need to try and push on and get more first-team experience. The club have seen something in me and now I need to prove they were right to give me that contract and that I’m ready to contribute more to this team. I feel excited to see what the future holds.

The adidas Predator Mutator 20 football boots collection is available at