Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino has named England full-back Reece James as his new captain for the upcoming season.
James first joined the London club when he was six years old, coming up through the Academy ranks before making his senior Blues debut in September 2019 – when he also scored against Grimsby Town in the League Cup – after spending a hugely successful season on loan at Championship club Wigan Athletic.
He has now played 147 games for Chelsea, scoring 11 goals, winning the Champions League, Uefa Super Cup and Fifa Club World Cup during his time at Stamford Bridge.
“I'm so happy to take on the role and responsibility,” said James in a statement. “I know I've got big shoes to fill because we have had huge captains here in the past, but I am excited.
“I have been at Chelsea pretty much my whole life. I started here when I was six and to come through the Academy is tough. But to go on and become captain, it's a great feeling for me and my family.”
Reece was limited to just 16 Premier League appearances last season due to injuries – as Chelsea finished down in 12th place – and was left “devastated” after missing the World Cup in Qatar due to a knee problem picked up playing against AC Milan in the Champions League.
But he has been a regular throughout the current pre-season campaign and now new manager Pochettino has now named him captain, succeeding Cesar Azpilicueta, who left to join La Liga side Atletico Madrid on a free transfer earlier this summer after 11 seasons in West London.
“This is a decision taken by me and the club. We are very pleased Reece will captain the side this season,” said Pochettino.
“He leads by example and his attitude and dedication to Chelsea has been clear throughout pre-season. He proudly wore the armband during our summer tour and will take up the challenge of leading our squad with his own approach and ideas.”
Chelsea start their Premier League campaign by taking on Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
It has been a memorable summer for the James family, with Reece's sister Lauren having been a standout star with England at the current Women's World Cup, scoring twice and assisting two more goals in the 6-1 win over China.
The 21-year-old forward, who also plays for Chelsea, was then sent off during the Lionesses' last-16 penalty shoot-out win over Nigeria.