Colwill is the best I’ve ever seen’ – Inside Chelsea’s NXGN star’s impressive Huddersfield loan
‘At his age, Colwill is the best I’ve ever seen’ – Inside Chelsea’s NXGN star’s impressive Huddersfield loan
The 19-year-old defender has been in superb form in the Championship this season, setting him up to make his Premier League breakthrough in 2022-23.
Fans who follow Chelsea’s academy sides have known about the potential of Levi Colwill for years, labelling the centre-back ‘The new John Terry’ as he developed in west London.
A season-long loan move to Huddersfield Town in the summer of 2021, therefore, offered Colwill the chance to show why he had garnered such a nickname while playing first-team football.
To say Colwill was confident of doing just that would be an understatement.
While Terry’s famous No.26 shirt has been semi-retired at Chelsea since he left the club in 2017, Colwill wasted no time in picking the same number when he arrived in West Yorkshire.
And Colwill has since shown exactly why he has been so regularly compared to the Blues legend.
The teenager has made over 20 league starts for Huddersfield over the course of the campaign, putting in a series of impressive performances for a team that finds itself fourth in the Championship and chasing what would be a surprising promotion back to the Premier League.
“On the pitch, how we play and the intensity on the pitch is so different to academy football. It took me a few weeks to get used to it and I am still learning,” according to Colwill back in September.
“The manager, Carlos Corberan, made a brave choice because, as an 18-year-old coming to the Championship at centre-half from Chelsea, it may have led to everyone asking questions, saying: ‘Is he just getting the chance because he came from a big club?’
“I needed to prove myself, but for him to trust me and bring me in, all I can say is thank you for trusting me.”
That trust has been repaid, with Colwill having put in the kind of performances that led to Leicester City attempting to hijack his loan in the January transfer window so he could spend the second half of the season at the King Power Stadium.
And he is the latest in a long line of Premier League loanees to have thrived at the John Smith’s Stadium.
“We had Ben Chilwell on his first loan from Leicester, we took Trevoh Chalobah from Chelsea, had Emile Smith Rowe from Arsenal,” Leigh Bromby, the ex-Premier League defender who is now head of football operations at Huddersfield, explains to GOAL.
“Before that, we had two Chelsea players in Izzy Brown and Kasey Palmer, while we also got Aaron Mooy in from Man City, and they all came in and did well.
“Now it is Levi’s turn as one of our top-end loans, and he has come in and done well.”
He adds: “We looked at Levi last January, so we were aware of him before we signed him. I am sure there was more interest around Levi.
“There were teams aware of him, but luckily for us, we have a really good relationship with Chelsea and a backlog of successful loanees.
“As a person, he has fit in so well. It’s his professionalism, the way he has conducted himself and approached the loan has been fantastic.
“Some players come in from bigger clubs and think maybe it will be easy. He has humility and openness to come in and work for his place and buy into what we are doing.
“He has been excellent and is not only a credit to himself but Chelsea, with the way they work with players and prepare them. The way he has fit into the dressing room has been unbelievable.
“The players and staff really like him and love working with him. He’s looking to improve and working to get better. Talent-wise, for his age, he is the best I’ve seen when I’ve either been playing or coaching.
“The chances, for me, are so high that he will go back and play for Chelsea and England.”
Colwill’s form saw him recognised this week by NXGN, as he was the only Chelsea player to make the 50-man list of football’s best wonderkids for 2022.
The 19-year-old is benefitting from Huddersfield’s top-flight standard coaching, nutrition and physical performance facilities, while being watched over by the club’s loans manager, David Fox.
“You forget he is so young,” Fox, who had a 15-year professional career after coming through Manchester United’s academy, tells GOAL.
“He has literally just turned 19 and played the whole season at 18. His performances, character and mannerisms are not that of a typical 18-year-old.
“He is unbelievably hard-working and humble. He comes from a good upbringing both at home and at Chelsea.
“We wanted him in for pre-season, which gave him time to settle and adjust. He was able to come in, do pre-season, play the pre-season games and bed in with the lads. That was a real positive to get his feet in the door before the season started.
“Chelsea want him in their first team some day, and if we can get him to help him while making him better along the way, then that’s what it is about.”
It is now a case of which team Colwill will play Premier League football for next season, rather than whether he will play it.
Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel will integrate him into the first-team squad in west London during pre-season, meaning a decision on his future is likely to be delayed compared to last summer.
Reece James has shown that the step up from the Championship to the Chelsea senior side can be made after he went from a loan spell at Wigan Athletic straight into Frank Lampard’s plans in 2019.
If there is no space for him next season, though, then he is sure to have options, with Huddersfield hoping they can get themselves to the front of the queue by securing promotion in the coming weeks.
But if Colwill does not return to the Terriers following the end of the current campaign, the club can be proud of how it has helped develop another prospective England international.
“We made him better, he made us better and it will help Chelsea in the long run,” says Bromby.
‘The new John Terry’ is just getting started.