Michael Emenalo

Former Chelsea technical director Micheal Emenalo has revealed that there were pressure from within the club in the past to close down the club’s academy.

Chelsea currently occupy fifth position in the Premier League and the team full of academy graduates playing the domineering style of football the Russian billionaire, Roman Abramovich, favours.

Three of those graduates, Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori, are in Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad.

That number could rise to at least five before next summer’s European Championships with Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek returning to fitness.

Emenalo, a former Nigeria international, disclosed how Abramovich refused to abandon the academy while some were questioning whether or not it would ever pay off.

“I defended the academy when there was pressure and doubt and pessimism,” Emenalo said in an interview with Telegragh.co.uk.

“There was a time when there was a clamour to do more and a manager came in to make a presentation to say the academy was not necessary. The argument was it takes too long, we don’t have time, we should use it to make some money here and there, and that the owner should stop pumping money into it because it seemed like a waste.

“But that wasn’t my idea and I had to fight against it. This is where I am very, very proud of the owner Roman Abramovich because of the trust he had in me and the willingness to listen to me and give the academy time. He would not abandon it. He believed in it and in me, and I can’t thank him enough for that.”

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