Chelsea Football Club are the champions of Europe.
With Kai Havertz firing a winning goal past Manchester City at the Estádio do Dragão on Saturday night, the Blues reiterated their status as one of the most exciting clubs in world football.
And what made Chelsea‘s triumph in Portugal all the more special was the fact that so many of their key players had risen through the academy and youth ranks to become first-team stars.
Chelsea’s academy graduates
In fact, key protagonists Mason Mount and Reece James, as well as Callum Hudson-Odoi, were all part of the Chelsea squad that won the 2017 FA Youth Cup in dramatic fashion.
Although the Blues dominated the competition throughout the entire 2010s, Jody Morris marshalling an astonishing 6-2 aggregate win in the 2017 final might be their finest triumph of all.
In a remarkable piece of cosmic fate, City happened to be their opponents in the final and Chelsea particularly excelled themselves during the second leg in which they produced a massive 5-1 win.
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Chelsea’s 2017 FA Youth Cup winners
And with the aforementioned trio of Chelsea youngsters going on to lift the Champions League trophy this week, we couldn’t help asking: what happened to the entire FA Youth Cup-winning team?
Well, we’ve sought to answer that question by taking the starting XI and substitutes from the second leg romp, so you can see how that lucrative generation of talents has fared in the years since.
Still on the books at Stamford Bridge, Cumming was named on the substitutes’ bench for the 2019 Europa League final and spent the 2020/21 campaign on loan at Stevenage in League Two.
Ever heard of this guy?! James is well on his way to 100 senior appearances for the Stamford Bridge club and dropped an absolute masterclass in the 2021 Champions League final.
One of the goalscorers on the night, Chalobah is still plying his trade in west London having spent seasons out on loan with Ipswich Town, Huddersfield Town and most recently Lorient in Ligue 1.
Similarly, Guehi is still on the books at Chelsea and spent the 2020/21 season on loan at Swansea City, starting the Championship play-off final as the Welsh side lost 2-0 to Brentford.
Chelsea love loaning out their players and Castillo, who represents the Netherlands at youth level, has represented the likes of Jong Ajax, AZ Alkmaar and ADO Den Haag in recent years.
Another loan? You betcha. Uwakwe still has time to make a breakthrough at Stamford Bridge and gathered his first few appearances in professional football with Accrington Stanley this season.
With a single FA Cup and League Cup appearance for Chelsea, Sterling is on the fringes of the club’s youth plans having spent seasons out on loan at Coventry City and Wigan Athletic.
The first player who has actually waved goodbye to Chelsea, Maddox put pen to paper on a move to Vitória S.C. in Portugal having never made an appearance out on loan at Southampton.
Ugbo found the net in the FA Youth Cup final and continues to prove his goalscoring prowess out on loan, rounding off his 2020/21 season with 16 goals in 33 appearances for Cercle Brugge.
Hmmm, no idea about this guy. I’m sure he’s doing something cool these days.
Consistently linked with a Bayern Munich move, Hudson-Odoi is one of the world’s most exciting young players and already has 98 senior appearances for Chelsea at just 20 years old.
Taylor-Crossdale waved goodbye to the Blues upon the expiration of his contract in 2021 and was last seen on trial at Queens Park Rangers having spent two seasons with Scott Parker at Fulham.
The young brother of Josh and an unused substitute in the 2019 Europa League final, McEachran was most recently out on loan in the Netherlands with MVV Maastricht.
A goalscorer off the bench during the final in question, Dasilva is still awaiting his first professional appearance having bounded around the youth ranks at Brentford and now Leicester City.
I bet you didn’t see this one coming, but Chelsea’s substitute goalkeeper actually went on to sign for Paris Saint-Germain and boasts two senior appearances for the serial Ligue 1 winners.
One of the more familiar names in the team, no doubt, because Gallacher familiarised himself with Premier League fans on loan at West Bromwich Albion this season, scoring twice in 30 matches.
Future Champions League winners
Remarkably, despite so few of the players actually having made a senior appearance for Chelsea thus far, almost all of them are still on the payroll at Stamford Bridge nearly four years down the line.
And although it would be fantastic to see more of the 2017 cohort making the breakthrough in west London, it really goes to show that James, Mount and Hudson-Odoi were the standout talents.
Besides, going from lifting the FA Youth Cup to the Champions League in less than half a decade is what dreams are made of.