Chelsea have been FA Youth Cup champions in five of the past seven seasons. No team has dominated the competition since Manchester United’s “Busby Babes” were victors in its first five seasons.
That United generation produced the likes of Sir Bobby Charlton and Duncan Edwards, legends of the English game, while Chelsea are yet to generate a first-team regular from their youth team successes.
So, where are the players that led the Blues to youth glory? ESPN FC lists each of Chelsea’s winning player, with first-team appearances in brackets.
Class of 2010, beat Aston Villa 3-1 on aggregate
Josh McEachran (22), Jeffrey Bruma (9), John Swift, Islam Feruz, Adam Nditi, Amin Affane, Sam Walker, Billy Clifford, Rohan Ince, Aziz Deen-Conteh, Conor Clifford, Jacopo Sala, Aliu Djalo, Gokhan Tore, Marko Mitrovic
Until Ruben Loftus-Cheek surpassed him this season, midfielder Josh McEachran had been the Chelsea graduate with the most first-team appearances in the 21st Century, though his final bow came on Jan. 2, 2012. A series of loans ended after a season at Vitesse Arnhem, Chelsea’s sister club, when he transferred to Brentford in the summer of 2015 and, still just 23, is yet to establish himself in a team going well in this season’s Championship.
Jeffrey Bruma could never win a place at centre-back, failing to displace the likes of John Terry and David Luiz, and after a loan at Hamburg a 2013 move to PSV brought his career on track. He is now at Wolfsburg.
The rest are long forgotten starlets, with by the far the biggest name beyond McEachran and Bruma being Gokhan Tore, currently on loan at West Ham from Besiktas, and not enjoying much fortune at the London Stadium.
Class of 2012, beat Blackburn Rovers 4-1 on aggregate
Nathan Ake, (11), Lucas Piazon (3), Nathaniel Chalobah (1), Lewis Baker (1), Jamal Blackman, Alex Davey, John Swift, Islam Feruz, Adam Nditi, Amin Affane, Todd Kane
Of 2012’s group, only midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah is in this season’s first-team squad and he made his first ever first-team appearance at Leicester in the EFL Cup last month, having been at the club since 2005.
Defender Nathan Ake was an unused substitute in Chelsea’s Europa League final victory of 2013 and is on loan at Bournemouth this season having done well at Watford in the Premier League last season.
Forward Lucas Piazon is at his fifth loan club, Fulham, having been signed from Sao Paulo for an initial fee of £5 million in 2011. His most telling contribution in a Chelsea shirt has been to miss a late penalty against Aston Villa in December 2012. Had he scored, Chelsea would have won 9-0, equalling the all-time Premier League record scoreline, as set by Manchester United beating Ipswich by that scoreline in 1995.
Lewis Baker, 21, an attacking midfielder, is in his second season on loan at Vitesse, having played just three minutes for Jose Mourinho in a 3-0 FA Cup win at Derby in January 2014.
Of the others, full-back Todd Kane remains at the club, contracted until 2019, though is currently recovering from a cruciate ligament injury. Only goalkeeper Jamal Blackman, loaned to Wycombe, remains on the Chelsea books.
Class of 2014, beat Fulham 7-6 on aggregate
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (23), Andreas Christensen (3), Dominic Solanke (1), Isaiah Brown (1) Charlie Colkett, Jordan Houghton, Jake Clarke-Salter, Fankaty Dabo, Mitchell Beeney, Charly Musonda, Kasey Palmer, Jay DaSilva
Loftus-Cheek has passed McEachran’s lowly record this season, though greater involvement relies on him winning the faith of Antonio Conte, who has been considering using the midfielder as a striker, due to a shortage of cover for Diego Costa. This season, a player who never really convinced a sometimes openly critical Jose Mourinho, has played only in the EFL Cup, and not been on the bench in the Premier League since August.
Defender Andres Christensen was given only minimal opportunities by Mourinho, but is on his second of a two-year loan at Borussia Monchengladbach, where he was player of the year last season.
Striker Dominic Solanke is the only player from the 2014 squad in the first-team squad other than Loftus-Cheek, and was also a Youth Cup winner in 2015. He became Chelsea’s youngest ever Champions League player when he came on as a late sub against Maribor in the 2014-15 season and impressed at Vitesse last season. Just 19 last month, it was surprising he was not again loaned out in the summer’s transfer window.
Winger Isaiah “Izzy” Brown played the last 11 minutes of Chelsea’s 3-0 defeat at West Brom at the end of the 2014-15 season when they were already champions, but has since been loaned to Vitesse and is at Rotherham United this season. He was signed from West Brom in July 2013 and had already made a Premier League appearance for the Baggies.
Class of 2015, beat Manchester City 5-2 on aggregate
Ola Aina (1), Bradley Collins, Fikayo Tomori, Jeremie Boga, Charlie Colkett, Tammy Abraham, Ruben Sammut, Mukhtar Ali, Jared Thompson, Joshua Grant, Kyle Scott
Right-back Ola Aina was given his first ever Chelsea appearance when coming on as a sub for Terry in August’s 3-2 EFL Cup home defeat of Bristol Rovers, and has been an unused sub in five Premier League matches this season.
Tammy Abraham, who scored three goals over the two legs of 2015’s final, is currently on loan at Bristol City, and is widely viewed as the Chelsea youngster most likely to make the breakthrough. The 6-foot-3 striker has scored 11 goals in 14 appearances at the Championship club. In a season in which Conte lacks cover for Costa beyond Michy Batshuayi, Solanke and Loftus-Cheek, Chelsea may regret a “no recall” clause in Abraham’s season-long loan.
Class of 2016, beat Manchester City 4-2 on aggregate
Nathan Baxter, Trevoh Chalobah, Fikayo Tomori, Ruben Sammut, Mukhtar Ali, Isaac Christie-Davies, Mason Mount, Dujon Sterling, Jacob Maddox, Ike Ugbo, Charlie Wakefield
April’s third victory in succession, where Abraham was again on the scoresheet, saw left-back Jay DaSilva and defender Jake Clarke-Salter become the first players to win three Youth Cup winners’ medals since the Busby Babes.
Of last season’s winners, goalkeeper Nathan Baxter (with the Metropolitan Police football team) and Clarke-Salter (Bristol Rovers) are loanees. The rest remain within the club’s underage setup