Lofty Ambitions

Five goals and two assists in thirteen matches, England Under-16 captain (complete with goal and assists), and a place on the reserve team substitutes bench aged 15.

It’s not been a bad 2011-12 campaign so far for schoolboy Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and whilst coverage of Under-16 players should be tempered, the young midfielder makes an impact so often that he’s hard to ignore.

For the best part of 18 months through 2009 and 2010, a growing Loftus-Cheek struggled through injuries caused by natural body growth. It’s something which afflicts many a young footballer and requires great patience and temperament to get through.

He featured heavily at the 2010 Milk Cup Tournament in Northern Ireland, scoring a handful of goals as Chelsea became the first team to ever win the competition without conceding a goal.

England Under-16 coach Kenny Swain was duly impressed and selected Ruben for Victory Shield duty, but he was forced to withdraw injured on two separate occasions.

By the final few weeks of the 10-11 season, Ruben had come through the worst of his problems and was fit enough to make his Under-18 debut for Dermot Drummy’s youth team as an Under-15.

Tall and rangy, with a solid yet hardly dominating physique, he has the air of a high class vehicle simply cruising around making everything look easy and assured.

He captained the Blues to domestic success at the UK Nike Cup Finals in May and led the same group of players to fourth place at the prestigious Manchester United Premier Cup Finals in early August.

Evidently too good to continue at schoolboy level, he started the season with Adie Viveash’s Under-18 squad and has not looked back.

A goal on the opening day of the season away to Newcastle was quickly followed by a healthy run in front of goal which puts him third in the youth team’s scoring charts at mid-season, trailing Alex Kiwomya and Islam Feruz.

He has played in all three midfield roles the team uses whilst also featuring at centre-back when needed, and whilst he hasn’t made a debut for the reserve team yet, he was on the bench against both Everton and Aston Villa, and won’t turn 16 until late January.

England came calling again, and this time not only was he fit to play, he captained the Three Lions and put in starring roles against both Northern Ireland and Wales, scoring against the latter.

He withdrew from the squad to play Scotland as a precaution after feeling a hamstring injury and so was deprived of the honour of lifting the competition trophy, but you get the impression that he will have ample opportunity in years to come to experience that sort of thing, such has been his rapid progress to date.

Comments are closed.