» Teenager Tom savours ‘spe­cial’ Robins de­but

Gloucestershire Echo - - FRONT PAGE - Jon PALMER gloslives­[email protected]­plc.com

TOM Chamberlai­n de­scribed his se­nior de­but for Chel­tenham Town as a truly spe­cial night. The 17-year-old mid­fielder was named in boss Michael Duff’s start­ing XI for Tues­day’s open­ing Leas­ing.com group match against Exeter City.

He missed out Kyle Haynes’ record as the club’s youngest player since they first en­tered the Foot­ball League in 1999, by just 10 days.

Chel­tenham were beaten 1-0 af­ter Nicky Ajose’s early strike, but Duff’s young side, with an av­er­age age of just over 21, gave an im­pres­sive ac­count of them­selves at St James Park.

It was a land­mark mo­ment for Chamberlai­n, who is Chel­tenham born and at­tended All Saints Academy, as he de­liv­ered a ma­ture per­for­mance against a far more ex­pe­ri­enced Gre­cians line-up.

“It’s an unbelievab­le feel­ing to make my de­but,” he said.

“I have been at the club for 10 years and it’s what my life has been build­ing up to re­ally.

“Af­ter be­ing out there with the lads and train­ing with them, you just want to go out there and show them what you are made of and I thought I did well.

“There is al­ways more you can give and I know I can al­ways do bet­ter.

“I am very tired and my legs are killing me, but it’s a great feel­ing.”

Chamberlai­n was ear­marked as a player with ma­jor po­ten­tial dur­ing a youth team vic­tory at For­est Green Rovers last sea­son, not long af­ter Duff had been ap­pointed as man­ager.

Af­ter loan ex­pe­ri­ence at Worces­ter City last term, Chamberlai­n spent the whole of pre-sea­son with the first team squad and ap­peared in pre-sea­son friendlies.

He was an un­used sub­sti­tute for the matches at Bris­tol Rovers and More­cambe, but got his chance at Exeter,

play­ing for 78 min­utes be­fore be­ing re­placed by Alex Ad­dai.

“Be­ing from Chel­tenham makes it ex­tra spe­cial wear­ing the badge, play­ing in front of the fans and it was a dream come true,” he said.

“I wasn’t re­ally ex­pect­ing it this early, but I have been wait­ing for it and felt I was ready.

“I want to do as much as I can now, whether that’s with the Un­der-18s, out on loan or in first team train­ing.

“I want to do every­thing I can to push for a place on the bench or in the team.”

Chamberlai­n’s only pre­vi­ous club is Leck­hamp­ton Rovers in the Chel­tenham Youth League.

One of three academy prod­ucts on show along with Archie Bren­nan and George Lloyd, he lined up in mid­field at Exeter next to Conor Thomas, with Ryan Broom in front of them and cap­tain Ben Tozer in the back­line.

The teenager said he was given plenty of ad­vice dur­ing the evening.

“The more ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers were con­stantly go­ing through things with me, telling me where to be and to get on the ball,” he said.

“It’s a taster for me and they were all sup­port­ive and bril­liant.

“I thought we played well, cre­ated chances and we just need to take them re­ally.

“The gaffer goes on about how we be ex­cel­lent and then one set piece changes the game.

“You can have the ball for 90 min­utes, but in the 92nd minute you can switch off and con­cede from a set piece.

“It’s al­ways tick­ing over in your head that you have to keep go­ing.”

Pic­ture: Antony Thomp­son - Thou­sand Word Me­dia

Tom Chamberlai­n tus­sles with ex-robins loa­nee Jake Taylor

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