Ben Chilwell didn’t play single minute of England’s run to the EURO 2020 final, which ended in heartbreak following a penalty shootout defeat to Italy in the final on Sunday.
The Chelsea left back found himself behind Luke Shaw and Kieran Trippier in the pecking order for his position. Shaw had a superb tournament for the Three Lions while Trippier was Gareth Southgate’s go-to for substitutions and also tactically, starting the final in place of Bukayo Saka as England matched up with the Italians.
Three weeks ago, Trippier was given the nod for England’s opening group game win over Croatia. Shaw was then the incumbent at left back or left wing-back, putting in tremendous displays against Germany, Ukraine and opening the scoring in the final against Italy inisde two minutes.
Chilwell missed out on the squad entirely for the terrific win over the Germans and was also ruled out of the final group game victory against Czech Republic as he was placed in self-isolation having spent a little too long in the company of Billy Gilmour, who tested positive for Covid-19 after England’s 0-0 draw with Scotland.
He returned to the bench as an unused substitute against Ukraine but didn’t make the squad for the semi final win over Denmark or the final loss to Italy.
Ahead of the semi final however, England boss Gareth Southgate made a point of praising Chilwell and others such as Conor Coady, Ben White and the two backup keepers who hadn’t played a minute in the tournament.
“”It’s a strange feeling. I’m actually, at this moment, thinking of the players that didn’t get on the pitch because of the likes of Conor Coady, Ben Chilwell, Sam Johnstone, Aaron Ramsdale – they’re the ones that are making this team successful because the spirit of this group is phenomenal. Whoever comes in does the job.”
Chilwell finished the season very strongly for Chelsea as they secured a top-four finish and won the Champions League. Having appeared to run out of gas as Frank Lampard was replaced by Thomas Tuchel, Chilwell was taken out of the firing line and replaced in the Blues lineup by Marcos Alonso.
The Spaniard had been jettisoned by Lampard after his indiscretions at West Bromwich Albion last September and Emerson was playing his traditional role as cup left back and back-up.
Ahead of Chelsea’s European quarter final against Porto, Chilwell was the player chosen to undertake pre-match media duties not long after the team had landed in Seville for the first leg.
“When the manager came in, it was a clean slate for everyone. You can look at it one of two ways.
“Either I didn’t play the first three or four games which could’ve got me down but I used it as an opportunity to work harder, to ask him questions in training where he thinks I can improve my game and get more match time.
“When I get the opportunity to play I want to prove I should be playing more regularly and I’m sure all other players including Marcos are doing the same thing.
“It’s very healthy, especially at this stage of the season with quarter finals, semi-final in the cup, the league, it’s important everyone in the squad is challenging each other for eleven shirts and working hard, as they want to stay in the team.”
Shaw’s imperious displays meant it was always going to be tough for Chilwell to get much of a look-in and that’s how it transpired. There can be no qualms however thanks to Shaw’s brilliant displays, especially in the knockout games.
Southgate has shown he isn’t afraid to make changes to suit the opposition, but at left back it looks settled with Shaw from now on.
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Chilwell is hardly in a quandary though heading into his summer holiday after the Euros came to an end at the weekend.
He’s also a Champions League winner in his first season in the capital and will start next season as Tuchel’s first choice left back, or wing-back if the German sticks with the five-man defence he has employed since replacing Lampard.
Circumstance and the form of others has seen game time limited for Chilwell, who will not join up for pre-season with Chelsea until early August. But he overcame his first hurdle as a Blues player when Tuchel arrived in January and this won’t be a setback.