Small In Stature, Big In Talent - Chelsea's Billy Gilmour Is The Model Midfielder

The 18-year-old put in a Man of the Match performance to help dump Liverpool out of the FA Cup
12:44, 04 Mar 2020

It was a performance which belied his years. Frank Lampard even admitted that someone questioned why he was fielding a "kid who looks like a 15-year-old" earlier this season but young Billy Gilmour looked like a seasoned pro as he put in a Man of the Match performance for Chelsea to dump Liverpool out of the FA Cup.

The midfielder, actually 18, stole the show with a dominant performance for the Blues and was showered with praise for such a mature performance.

Alan Shearer said he bossed it. Ian Wright was seriously impressed. His manager Lampard spoke so warmly about him to reporters after the match, something which will fill Gilmour with huge pride and confidence.

“What a performance; not just as a youngster coming into the team, that’s one level – he performed like a top-class player going up against top-class players. So it was a great performance,” he said. This coming from one of the greatest midfielders of the 21st century tells you plenty about Gilmour’s talent.

Immense ability, quick on the turn and a keen eye for a pass, he is also extremely grounded it seems.

His Nan and Granddad were down at Stamford Bridge for the clash from Scotland, where he was born and played for Rangers until 2017, being picked-up by the Ibrox giants at the age of eight. Joining the Blues three years ago, it was clearly a dream come true, having posed in a Chelsea shirt as a kid in an image his Mum Carrie shared on social media for his birthday. 

However, it’s not just football shirts he’s been pictured in. Before his debut in 2019, Gilmour was signed by fashion brand Burberry after catching the eye away from the football field.

Speaking to The Sun, he said: "My agent just rang me up after training out of the blue one day and asked 'fancy being a model?'

"I was like 'what?'…he said 'it’s only gonna be for a year, just a couple of shoots.' I then said, 'for who?' and he said 'for Burberry'…it was at that point where I said 'aye!'"

Featuring in a black and white shoot in a trench coat and patterned scarf, it seems he’s as home in front of the camera as much as he is on the football field.

He added of another pictured in which he stood with a postage stamp on his tongue: "I was getting a bit of stick in the training room off the pitch for that when the pictures came through, but it was definitely worth it – it was some buzz, something different as well."

Growing up in the North Ayrshire town of Ardrossan, with his younger 14-year-old brother Harvey who is signed to Kilmarnock, it was there that Billy attended the Grange Academy for secondary school which was also a Scottish Football Association Performance School, such was his clear potential in the game. Always up for a challenge, he elected to learn Mandarin Chinese as opposed to the more traditional school languages like German and French.

Even now, according to the Daily Mail, when home, which is rare, he will return to catch up with former coaches and train. Often though, he remains at home to Chelsea’s Cobham base and puts in the extra hours there.

Making the move south he signed his first professional contract with Chelsea in 2018, but homesickness has never been an issue. He is just so determined to make the grade and be the best he can be, winning trophies along the way.

Speaking to the Daily Record two years ago, Gilmour said: “Most of my family are Rangers fans and I love the club. I’ll always be thankful for everything they did for me. But when Chelsea showed me what their plan was for me, I just couldn’t turn it down. Everything about the club was incredible and it’s where I wanted to be.

“My aim has always been to play at the best level. I’ve always wanted to play older, get the best coaching, stay behind and do more. So when I heard Chelsea came in it was a no-brainer. I wanted to be with the best team. I want to be winning everything. And when I get a chance at first-team level, I want to be one of the best players there.”

On Tuesday, that dream was realised.

Gilmour is clearly well disciplined as he strives to be the best, though it should come as no real surprise considering his father Billy Snr has a background in the Navy. He is humble too, as Lampard pointed out in his post-match praise of the youngster.

He is one of those players, you might know one or two from five-a-side, who just keep the ball while making it look so effortless. They just never lose it. Against Hull in the previous round of the FA Cup, he came on to ‘calm things down’. Gilmour is a wise head on young shoulders, something needed among Chelsea’s youthful contingent. He’s a talker and leads by example. Standing at only 5 ft 6, the comparisons with Xavi and Iniesta won't be far off. Named ‘Revelation of the Tournament’ in Toulon two years ago, he is one of the brightest players to come out of Scotland in a generation. 

“He’s small in stature but huge in personality, and also huge in talent,” said Lampard on Tuesday. Billy Gilmour has a massive future in the game but, after his display against Liverpool, his time may have already arrived.