Nortei Nortey - A Name To Remember
The Well is filling up for this determined Chelsea academy product by AtTheMatch
Chelsea FC’s Youth Academy has been a seemingly non-exhaustive source of burgeoning talent over the past few years. Whilst the club have become renowned in modern times – especially during the Roman Abramovich era – for purchasing world-class players at exorbitant prices, thus reducing the possibility of home-grown products breaking through the ranks en masse, there nevertheless remains a crop of youngsters who have gone on to launch promising careers either at the home of the current English champions or elsewhere in football.
To name but a few, the likes of Scott Sinclair and Sam Hutchinson have operated at top names in and around the country’s top two divisions, Rueben Loftus-Cheek is viewed as an integral part of the club’s future plans and the likes of Patrick Bamford, Nathaniel Chalobah and Lewis Baker are expected to contribute at a similar level after successful loan spells all around Europe. Whilst it can be levelled as a criticism of Chelsea’s youth policy that Loftus-Cheek appears the only obvious candidate to make the vaunted progression from academy pupil to first-team regular, it conversely must reflect positively upon the youth system in place at the West London outfit that such a large number of their junior contingent go on to thrive in the rarefied air of a top-level professional football environment.
Such an exemplary credit to Chelsea’s celebrated youth production policy is evident in the shape of the tenacious 21-year-old Nortei Nortey. The Londoner is currently at Welling United of the National League, though there is no doubt that he will very soon be back operating a higher level, such is the determination and softly-spoken straight talking manner which this eloquent young man adopts when we caught up with him at the AtTheMatch event in Central London earlier in January. We discussed the defender’s career ambitions, his time at Chelsea and the potentially thorny issue of choosing allegiance between his nation of his birth England and his motherland Ghana.
“I really enjoyed the time I had at Chelsea and there wouldn’t necessarily be anything I would change from my time there,” affirmed Nortey, who joined Chelsea at under-15 level and left the club in 2013. “Unfortunately I suffered a serious injury in 2011 and after then it was a more difficult experience for me on a personal level. I’ve always had faith in my ability though, I am still lucky enough to have time on my side and I have confidence in my abilities and that I will ultimately succeed in my career.”
Nortey’s story is on the face of it one which can be regaled by young men across the length and breadth of the land – prodigious talent snapped by a huge club at an adolescent age, only to succumb to a physical ailment which has a knock-on effect of stilting progress at his the club and the player’s subsequent career. An ordinary story of promising talent unfulfilled right? Wrong. Nortey is not an ordinary player, not is he an ordinary man. From just one sitting with him you can tell that he’s fiercely loyal both on a personal and professional level. He is a self-professed family man (particularly close to his parents, who have guided him as he progressed up the Chelsea ranks and just as importantly cajoled and encouraged Nortey through the knockbacks) and refuses to say a bad word about the club to whom he was registered from the ages of 14 to 18. Nortey’s name was highlighted and underlined all throughout his early days in particular at Chelsea, culminating in a call up to a Ghana U20 training camp in 2011, an invitation which Nortey sadly was unable to take up as injury struck. His determination saw him through the other side though, and he is determined to progress again at Welling United.
“There are lot of young players at Welling, some of whom have also trained at youth level at big clubs. In addition there are some experienced campaigners mixed in too, but the philosophy which the gaffer (Loui Fazakerley) wants to implement is skilful football played on the ground, which is a credit to the club’s mentality but perhaps has swung a few results away from us against teams with a more direct and unattractive style. The results will come though as we have good players and a great manager”.
Having attended training camps and trained at youth level with clubs across Scandinavia and the Mediterranean, Nortey is keen to wax lyrical about the nuances of Continental coaching at schoolboy which perhaps has an underlying impact on England’s lack of success at senior international level. “There is more of an emphasis on playing the ball out from the back, everyone gets touches on the continent and no player seems to lack technical ability. These things are perhaps less prevalent over here, but then results are deemed more important from a young age”. Nortey was keen to straight-bat any notion that the results-based business which pervades youth football in England perhaps more than any serious football nation in the globe is a key determining factor in actually prohibiting the number of world-class players which seep through to the England set-up, and is equally diplomatic when pressed to choose between the country which developed him and the nation of his parents Ghana, simply adding coyly that he will decide when the options are presented to him.
Nortey maintains that the best player he has shared a pitch with thus far in his career is Luke Shaw. This bright young ambitious man has every chance of gracing the turf with players of those ilk very soon again.Click here to stay up to date with AtTheMatch