Footballer Reece James is one of the most talented local youngsters to come out of London in recent years. So what if he’s also Chelsea’s youngest ever player? His dad, John James, spoke exclusively to us about his daughter and son following their rise from playing on a council pitch at Southwark Park four years ago to senior football in Europe.,
Reece James is a 19-year-old footballer who has been playing for Chelsea since 2015. His father, John James, was the first black professional footballer to play in England. Read more in detail here: reece james.
Lauren James celebrated Chelsea’s Champions League final victory with her elder brother on the field in Porto last season.
Football is a family affair for Nigel James. He has his own coaching company and helps young people succeed when he is not seeing his son Reece or daughter Lauren play for Chelsea.
He oversees youngsters aged five to eighteen, and he founded it when his own football career came to a halt after stints with Woking and Aldershot.
Reece, now 21, and Lauren, 19, as well as their older brother Joshua, were all enrolled in academies when they were younger. Reece joined Fulham’s Under-9s at the age of seven before moving on to Chelsea, while Lauren played for Arsenal’s Under-17s at the age of thirteen.
‘Not many families had the same amount of interaction time as they did.’
Reece James has a total of ten England caps.
Nigel James claims that exposure to extra coaching and equipment in the back yard aided their growth.
He tells Sport, “They played every day.” “After school, if they weren’t playing with their buddies, they were playing with each other.” There aren’t many families that have as much interaction time as they had; they had a field and all of the necessary equipment. Because I was a coach, they had poles, goals, and football after football.
“I guided them at times, but when I didn’t, they were set up to go out and recreate what we’d done in a session, working on things. Reece may be outside crossing a ball for Joshua to head or volley at times; he may have 50 balls to cross, and this is at a young age.”
Reece played all over the field for Chelsea as he progressed through the ranks, but his passion for sports prompted him to try his hand at cricket.
“At Chelsea, Reece used to play up front; now he plays in central midfield,” Nigel remembers. “When we used to play games against other soccer schools, he’d always play in defense, but when he was at home, he’d always play in goal.” He was arguably better than any other goalie at one point as an under-9, that’s how brilliant he was.
“He needed the greatest goalkeeper boots and goalie gloves. He, too, was a cricket fan who desired the greatest bats and pads. He’d take his belongings and spend hours in the field with a pal. He was just a sports fanatic.”
‘It shaped her into the player she is now.’
Lauren, who joined Chelsea from Manchester United in the summer and made her Champions League debut last week following a series of ailments, benefited greatly from playing alongside her brothers.
“It had an unbelievable effect,” Nigel continues. “Without realizing it, Lauren would not be where she is now if she hadn’t grown up with elite-end lads.”
“On the ball, she is a great craftsman; the way she touches the ball is incredible.” But it’s because of this that she’s become the player she is now.
“The Chelsea supporters may not realize what they have, but they will shortly.”
‘They have the ability to craft their own screenplays.’
Lauren James, Reece James’ younger sister, made her Chelsea debut from the stands.
Both James children were separated from their family and sent to the north west to further their growth. Lauren signed Manchester United and Reece joined Wigan Athletic on loan in the summer of 2018.
Before Frank Lampard offered him his chance at Chelsea, Nigel feels his son’s move to the DW Stadium for a year in the Championship was a true turning point for him.
“Wigan was Reece’s making,” Nigel explains. “A lot of people predicted that he’d play higher, but I’m a realist.” I’ve seen a lot of talented people fail to reach their full potential. I could go back after that season and think he may have a career in the Championship, that’s how serious I was. I had no doubts about his abilities; this is all about trust, and someone needs to put you on the squad. In the Championship, he’d proved himself.
“We were considering going out on loan again until Chelsea offered him an opportunity. Sheffield United, Brighton, and Crystal Palace were all interested in signing him. Frank had accepted the position, and he and Jody Morris met with Reece. He approached me and said he wanted to try it at Chelsea. It is not my responsibility to say, “You’re not playing, let’s go to Palace or Brighton.” That’s something you’ll have to delegate to him.”
Lauren, 16, left Arsenal after a rough season and joined a newly established Red Devils club in the Women’s Championship, which was coached by former England player Casey Stoney. Nigel reveals his joy over the transfer and praises the club, but he is pleased with Chelsea and its manager Emma Hayes’ professionalism.
“It was ideal for her to grow, in a league that provided a strong foundation and with a management who treated her as if she were her own,” he adds. “Her brother was also just a 20-minute drive away. There were some good moments there, as well as some difficulties; she had to learn to stand on her own as a young lady. She was their greatest player, therefore even if she wasn’t fully fit, she played, which isn’t ideal.
“Chelsea has a fantastic collection of players, so no one needs to perform at 60 percent; they also have a good coaching staff. Lauren’s next step in her career required her to work in a professional setting.”
With Chelsea, Reece has already won the Champions League and has established himself as a fixture in the England side. Lauren’s goal is to make the first team for both her club and her nation.
“They may choose what they want to do as much as they want to put in,” James says. “If they keep doing business, they’ll be able to create their own screenplays.”