Ruben Loftus-Cheek wants to emulate John Terry and become a Chelsea leader.
The England midfielder observed the former Stamford Bridge captain at close quarters after breaking through from the club’s youth ranks five years ago.
Though the centre-back was in the twighlight of his playing career then, Loftus-Cheek says he was an inspiraion.
And, as he bids to build on a positive season as one of Chelsea’s few homegrown first-teamers, the 23-year-old is using Terry as a benchmark as he develops his own leadership skills.
“He was the best leader I’ve seen, not just on the pitch but off it,” he told ESPN.
“He was always organising and sorting stuff out to make it easier for us. On the pitch he was very vocal and was that character you have at the back who would organise and make you feel safe.”
When asked if he can become a player others look to for inspiration, Loftus-Cheek added: “Yeah definitely, but I think that comes with a lot of experience. I don’t think Chelsea can ever replace John.
“I’ve observed that and felt that feeling, and that’s something that comes with experience. The more experience I get, then hopefully I can be that person.
“We look up to the senior guys in the squad, observe them and see how they act and see how they lead – especially Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta.
“They’re two of the most professional footballers I’ve seen. David [Luiz] as well.”
Loftus-Cheek believes he and team-mate Andreas Christensen – who is the same age – are ready to contribute more.
“I think it’s time for us,” he added. “Me and Andreas are 23 now. It’s not so young and we have to step up when we get given the time to play, and start to become really important players for the team.”
The Londoner, who spent the 2017-18 season on loan at Crystal Palace will hope to be part of manager Maurizio Sarri’s team when Chelsea face Arsenal in the Europa League final in Baku on May 29.
First they face New England Revolution in a friendly in Boston, after which Sarri will give his players some time off.
“We go there for a good reason I think, so as a man I am very happy to go there,” Sarri said of the US trip. “As a coach, of course, I am a little bit worried because I know very well that the team now needs rest. So, it is not the best way to prepare for the final, I think.”