Semi-finalist profile: Chelsea
Wednesday, 23 March 2016
A Chelsea squad containing five players who started the 2015 final, and several more who were on the bench, will return to Nyon determined to retain the UEFA Youth League trophy.
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"Nothing will beat winning in Nyon," coach Adi Viveash said, reflecting on last season's UEFA Youth League triumph. "That experience will live with us – the players and staff who were there – forever. It was an amazing achievement for our football club and this academy."
Chelsea now aim to repeat that feat and after overcoming Ajax in the quarter-finals to stretch their unbeaten run in the competition to 13 games, the Blues will have every confidence of doing so. The clinching goal against Ajax was scored by midfielder Kyle Scott, who has become an integral member of the side after watching from the bench as Chelsea defeated Shakhtar Donetsk 3-2 in last April's decider.
As the new crop step up to replace last year's champions, Viveash is delighted with the grounding his young charges are getting. "The Youth League is a fantastic experience for young people to develop within football," he said. "Players test their knowledge, footballing nous and ability against the top academies in Europe and are put into pressure situations that you hope a lot of them will go on to experience in their senior careers. It's been a wonderful tournament for us over the three years and long may it continue."
Among the 2015 winners still involved, Tammy Abraham has scored seven times in as many matches – with the striker, goalkeeper Bradley Collins, centre-back Jake Clarke-Salter and Scott forming the spine of a team that has conceded just five times in eight games this campaign.
"Being involved last season as well, I knew a little bit about what to expect," Abraham said. "There are new challenges every day and you have to adapt – that's really helped us to improve as a team. It's a tough experience but also a great experience playing against the best in Europe."
Coach: Adi Viveash
Date of birth: 30/09/69
The former Reading and Swindon Town defender arrived at Chelsea in 2008 and has worked with all the age groups at the academy and twice led sides to victory in the FA Youth Cup. He took charge of Chelsea's UEFA Youth League team last season and promptly guided them to the trophy.
While many of last term's UEFA Youth League winners are currently gaining senior experience out on loan, Ruben Loftus-Cheek has carved a niche in the first-team squad, netting his first senior goal in January and signing a new contract in February.
Five of the current squad started the 2015 final: Collins, Temitayo Aina, Clarke-Salter, Jay DaSilva and Charlie Colkett.