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Lewis Hall: Chelsea's new teenage star catching Tuchel's eye

8:00 PM MYT 04/02/2022
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The versatile 17-year-old was named Man of the Match on his professional debut and has kept his spot in the first-team squad ever since

As Chelsea prepare for their FA Cup fourth-round tie against Plymouth Argyle on Saturday, manager Thomas Tuchel will have to decide whether to include one of his star performers from the previous round.

The Blues were always expected to see off fifth-tier Chesterfield, of course, but the 41,000 fans who braved a visit to Stamford Bridge in early-January were still treated to a pleasant surprise in the shape of Lewis Hall's performance.

The 17-year-old became the ninth-youngest player to ever represent Chelsea, and their youngest ever in the FA Cup, after being named in the starting line-up, and he did not disappoint, laying on an assist in an all-action display that earned him the Man of the Match award.

"Ever since I was a kid at Chelsea, this is what I worked towards,” Hall told BBC Sport after the match. “To finally get the opportunity, and in front of my family and the amazing fans, is an incredible feeling.

"We had a meeting during the day when he (Tuchel) announced the team, and I was really nervous straight away.

"I saw my name on the team sheet and I was shaking. It took a few hours to process it."

Hall showed no signs of nerves once he was on the pitch, though, with his first-team debut marking an incredible rise that began when he joined the club 10 years ago after being spotted playing in his hometown of Slough.

It is only over the course of the 2021-22 season, however, that his reputation has risen to such heights that he is now regarded as one of the top prospects within the club's Cobham academy.

He began the campaign coming off a year where he flitted between Chelsea's Under-16s and U18s, but it soon became clear that Hall had taken his game on to another level when he returned after his summer break.

The teenager broke into the U23s team in September, and when Covid-19 saw a host of first-team players forced into isolation in December, Hall's was one of the first names called-up to train with Tuchel's squad.

He has remained with the first-team ever since, making it onto the substitutes' bench for two of the last four Premier League games.

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"He deserved to play," Tuchel said after Hall's debut. "He is a nice guy and very calm.

"The quality he showed [in traning] was very calm, and he was very good in our possession games and the little games he trained in.

"It was a huge opportunity at Stamford Bridge. He took his chance and was hugely involved in some of the goals, so I'm happy for him."

Hall comes from a sporting family and his older brother, Connor, has fond memories of the FA Cup, having previously starred for non-league Chorley on their run to the fourth round.

Lewis was a talented multi-sportsman growing up and, in the summer of 2021, could still be found turning out for his local cricket club in Binfield, where he is described as being a "talented left-handed all-rounder", who averaged 44 with the bat and took 20 wickets with the ball last season.

That all-round talent is clear in his football, too. Though he predominantly came through the ranks playing in midfield, he has thrived in a number of different positions in recent months.

He has filled in admirably at left-back or left-wing-back, while his first-team debut came playing on the left-hand side of a three-man defence – the first time he had ever played the position.

Given who his footballing heroes are, though, there must be a part of Hall who still harbours hopes of locking down a midfield role long-term.

"I have two that I like to base my game around, and that’s Kevin De Bruyne and Frank Lampard," he told the official Chelsea website.

"Both of them are very good technically, but I also like how they both contribute to the team with goals and assists, and how they look so comfortable on the ball."

Hall certainly seems to have picked up on how to contribute in the final third, with his tally of six goals and seven assists in 25 youth-team games this season proof of what the England U18 international can do when played further forward.

His status is growing outside the training ground, too, with Hall having earned 60,000 extra followers on Instagram in the 24 hours that passed after his debut performance.

Put in a similar showing against Plymouth, and expect that number to skyrocket once more for the new star of the Chelsea academy.

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