Chalobah Reflects on Premier League Journey
Nathaniel Chalobah shares his journey before reaching his Premier League status with the Watford Hornets. The midfielder has been one of the key players for the team especially in the FA Cup this season.
Chalobah is surely one of the vital pieces for Watford’s new boss Nigel Pearson, especially when the boss opted to rest his first-team players back in their FA Cup game against the Tranmere Rovers.
Pearson did not regret his decision in putting up a new set of players as he did not want to risk his first-team players getting injured. He wants them to focus on the Premier League games and would like to avoid adding more players to the injury room.
‘The Premier League is our priority and I have no qualms about it’, Pearson explained in an interview. ‘It was never my intention to do anything other than protect the squad and to look after what we need to do for the Premier League – it’s as simple as that and we can’t afford not to’.
‘Unfortunately for us, the FA Cup is not the priority. If we were in a more comfortable situation and had more players available (then it could be), but we don’t and at the minute we’ve got a quite a lengthy injury list’, Pearson continued. ‘We can’t afford as a football club to put ourselves into a situation where we go into the league programme with even fewer players available. I’ve got to make decisions based on what’s right for our season’.
Chalobah stepped up into the game and was able to knock down a goal for the team. Pearson later took him out of the game as the young midfielder seemed to have suffered a groin injury by halftime.
‘We had to try and find answers to questions we weren’t necessarily expecting. I would have expected us to see it through’, said Pearson. ‘But when you have an injury at half-time and then two players come off because they’ve got cramp, it just shows you the situation that we find ourselves in’.
Chalobah has grown a lot in Pearson’s guidance since he took over. The young midfielder believes that the boss was crucial in turning the pace for them.
‘If you look back a few months ago, we are in a completely different situation now’, said Chalobah. ‘We've now got a bit of momentum and we have to keep going. It's a draw – it wasn't a defeat, even though it feels like one to us personally and maybe to the fans – and now we've got a chance to put it right at their place’.
Chalobah thinks that Pearson’s leadership is something that the Hornets needed. True enough, he learned a lot and is completely a different player now.
‘What he said was plain and simple’, said Chalobah. ‘First that we need to be disappointed with ourselves that we let a 3-0 lead slip, but we are still in the competition and have a chance to put things right. It's a learning curve for the young lads... but it's not the end of the world. We are still in the competition and get a second chance and you don't (usually) get that’.
Chalobah grew up in Freetown in Sierra Leone. He said that he always had a football in his hand and would run around and kick the ball almost everywhere. He reflected on his time there before they moved to England.
‘When you hear stories like that it makes you think that it was meant to be. I moved to England when I was seven and football made the move easier. I spoke Krio, which is kind of broken English, so I could speak fluent English pretty quickly’, said Chalobah. ‘I would always go and find a football at break times at school and play with my mates. When people started to comment on my ability it made me more confident and I grew as a person’.
His younger brother, Trevor, played for the local team - and Gypsy Hill’s teams did not have any age groups. That allowed him to play alongside his brother as they grew up. He reflected on his brother’s journey into playing the same game of football.
‘I’m very proud of him and I’m also happy with the fact that he’s enjoying his football and trying to make a name for himself. His development had been crazy at Chelsea and then he had this spurt where he shot up and turned into a beast’, Chalobah explained his brother’s journey. ‘He made the bench for the 2018 FA Cup final under Antonio Conte, which was a special moment too. I had the same type of pathway of going out on loan and trying to showcase myself. He’s on loan at Huddersfield at the moment. He’s doing the right things and going about it the right way’.
He first played with Fritz Hall in his stay with the Hornets back in the 2012-13 season. He also played alongside Nyron Nosworthy, Manuel Almunia, Jonathan Hogg, and Hornets’ current skipper Troy Deeney.
‘We lived in the same block of flats as well, so he would call me around for dinner. He still looks after me now so he’s like the big brother I never really had’, Chalobah described his relationship with Fritz. ‘We speak every day now and I spoke to him when I left and when he was coming to the end of his career. Fritz is well respected in the industry, he’s a good guy and known for that. Like I’ve said, I like to keep myself around positive people and he is exactly that’.
Words: Paul Daniel Flores