Josh McEachran turned some heads when he burst on to the scene at Chelsea, so much so that Real Madrid fancied bring the young Englishman to the Santiago Bernabeu.
McEachran had been training with the first team since the age of 15, and became the first player born after the Champions League’s conception to play in the competition.
He looked like he would be the first youth-team player in the Roman Abramovich era to break into the first team at Chelsea, but his career wouldn’t quite take off the way we’d thought.
Now 24, McEachran is plying his trade for Brentford, having spent time on loan at Swansea, Middlesbrough, Watford, Wigan and Vitesse.
He started for Brentford against his former club earlier this season, as Chelsea ran out comfortable winners against the Championship side in the FA Cup.
But it could have been quite different for McEachran. Real Madrid came in for him when he was just 16 years old, but he decided to turn Los Blancos down to try and cement his place in Chelsea’s first team.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, he said:
“I just knew, I just believed in myself that I was going to make it.
“Under Carlo, when I made my debut I was like, saying to myself ‘ah, that was a good choice for me to say no to Real Madrid’ but looking back now maybe I should have (gone)!”
“I think, at 17 or 18, I was good enough to play for Chelsea. I still think I could play for Chelsea.
“It’s just about the opportunity. You need confidence, don’t you? Carlo believed in me.
“I was going onto the pitch knowing the manager was behind me most weeks and I had that confidence.”
Don’t get us wrong, McEachran’s clearly a very talented player, and he could yet eek out a career at the highest level; but you can’t help but wonder what could have been if he’d decided to leave for Spain.