As full debuts go, Tomas Kalas’s much-admired performance at Anfield on Sunday was one to remember, and the 20-year-old Czech defender shared his thoughts with Chelsea TV afterwards.
Having signed for Chelsea in January 2011 and helping our reserves become national champions, he then spent two seasons on loan at Vitesse Arnhem, where he gained plenty of experience of top-flight football, before Jose Mourinho decided early in pre-season that the young player would be part of the first team squad this campaign.
He was given two very brief appearances as a substitute in Champions League and Capital One Cup matches, and this month two full matches for our Under-21 side prior to diving in at deep end at Liverpool for his first Premier League action.
His early contributions to the match went well, and he told the club’s own channel those settled him down as the team went on to win 2-0.
‘A debut at Anfield, what could be better?’ said Kalas.
‘When you do a first good tackle or a first good pass or block a shot, it helps everyone, not only young players. When it is the start of the game and you are a little bit nervous but you don’t feel the gap, you are part of the team, it helps. And I was playing without any big stress.
‘All the time we were compact, we were one team, and I think it was decisive in who won the game,’ he said of the overall team performance
‘And when you are compact everything is easier. If everyone plays by himself, where he wants, then against players like Suarez, Sturridge, Sterling and Gerrard, players like that, it is really difficult, but when you play as a team, as a collective as we did, it is easier.’
Kalas, who has one full international cap to his name and won the Czech Republic’s award for best young player in 2012, said he was prepared for his first full Chelsea first team game despite only short previous appearances.
‘We could make a quiz question, who is the football player from Chelsea who made two appearances and didn’t touch the ball?’ he smiled, ‘but I was happy for everything when I came on before, even if I didn’t touch the ball.
‘I was ready [to play Liverpool]. I was doing the training the maximum I can and now I can see that I can play 90 minutes.
‘I was playing all my life as a centre-back, just last year in Vitesse I was playing right-back but I feel myself a centre-back who can play at right-back, so I was glad to play but especially when I could play centre-back.’