REECE JAMES has admitted that he was almost released from Chelsea’s youth academy.
The full-back has developed into one of the London club’s most prized assets despite his frequent injury set-backs.
And he will likely go down as one of Chelsea’s best youth academy product in the history of the club.
But he has revealed that it all could have been so different if coaches had cut him loose as a struggling teenager.
The 23-year-old told the England website: “I ended up staying at Chelsea the whole time once I joined [at the age of eight], but there was probably a stage where I was close to getting released around the age of 15 or 16.
“I was probably one of the worst in the group and they were unsure of how I was going to develop.
“They took a gamble on me by giving me a contract and I had to work hard to prove to people that I can play and achieve what I want to achieve.”
James was given a chance to demonstrate his ability on loan at Wigan in 2018 and he never looked back.
He was one of the stars of the Championship season and drew rave reviews from Latics supporters for his adventurous, all-action style of play.
James was then integrated into Chelsea’s team permanently under Frank Lampard and grew into one of the Premier League’s most impressive right-backs.
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But injuries continue to affect the ace and he spent much of this season on the sidelines.
So far, James has won the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup while at Stamford Bridge.