On his third start, tiny Chelsea teen Billy Gilmour tore Liverpool to shreds
The recent past of the Blues is littered with promising youth players who never made it – or were never given the chance.
Gilmour certainly took his, demonstrating why Frank Lampard has such faith that his fellow midfielder can buck that trend.
His slight 5ft 6ins frame (1.68m) can barely weigh 10 stone (63.5kg) when wringing wet, yet the young Scot stood tall on his third senior start in what turned into a big night for him and Chelsea.Round 29
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Willian and Ross Barkley scored the goals, but Gilmour was the glue that held together a fine performance from a less than full strength home side.
Gilmour was the best player on the pitch in the first half and arguably in the whole match.
Inside 15 minutes he had done pretty much everything you could ask of someone lining up in a midfield two in front of the back four.
His quick, neat feet ensured possession was not lost in dangerous areas, and he danced away from an Adam Lallana challenge.
He won a tussle with fellow teenager Curtis Jones, then welcomed Takumi Minamino to Stamford Bridge with a fierce but fair tackle.
His defensive role meant his talents as a playmaker weren’t going to be to the fore, but when the opportunity presented itself he surged forward and inspired attacks.
What was most noticeable, however, right from the start, was how at home and confident he felt.
From the opening moments, he was pointing and talking to senior teammates like Toni Rudiger and Kurt Zouma as if it was perfectly natural for a player who won’t turn 19 until July to be calling the shots.
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He was less involved as the half wore on and the game flowed end to end, but did not put a foot wrong until he span free in the centre circle only to hit an ambitious pass straight out of play.
A new challenge soon presented itself.
The loss of partner Mateo Kovacic to injury just before half time might have upset the balance but when Minamino and Sadio Mane combined dangerously, it was Gilmour who snuffed out the danger.
One fan made a point of telling him as he headed for the tunnel: “Well played, Billy.”
Early in the second half the wee man was even winning headers.
Another substitution changed Gilmour’s position again. Nae bother for the former Rangers youngster.
Although Liverpool grew in confidence for a while, he wasn’t losing any of his and the home fans sang his name after a challenge stopped Mane in his tracks, fairly or not.
While Jurgen Klopp removed Jones to bring on the big guns, Lampard left Gilmour where he was as Chelsea managed the game to victory.
As the minutes ticked by, still he ran, still he demanded the ball, still he looked the part.
After the young man had made a mug of Fabinho and set up a chance for Olivier Giroud, the chant of “There’s only one Billy Gilmour” rang around Stamford Bridge again.
Barkley’s goal was the picture book moment of the night, but Gilmour’s performance was the biggest talking point.
This story originally appeared on The Sun and is reproduced with permission.