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Friday, June 18, 2021

Pulisic: I ‘grew most’ with no fans at Chelsea

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    James OlleySenior Writer, ESPN FC

Chelsea midfielder Christian Pulisic said he believes he “grew the most as a player” during last season’s Premier League “Project Restart” due to an absence of fans.

English football resumed in June after the country’s first nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19 with Pulisic becoming one of the league’s most in-form players, registering five goals and two assists from 11 matches.

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The USMNT international has been hampered by injuries since joining from Borussia Dortmund for £58 million in the summer of 2019 but identified the final part of last season as the most significant for his development.

“It’s obviously changed a lot of things,” he said in an interview with GQ. “It’s not as enjoyable to play with no fans. [But] in a way I like it, because I don’t really like attention and all that stuff.

“And that’s also when I probably have grown the most as a player.”

Pulisic said he has found life under lockdown difficult with the United Kingdom enduring further severe restrictions, which are likely to stay in place until March.

“It’s been tough,” he said. “I haven’t seen my family in a long time. I don’t really go out besides being at the training ground. That’s really all I do.

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“Something that I’ve grown a lot closer with this past year is my belief in God, especially being alone over here. I feel like I always have someone who’s with me.

“I don’t know how I would do any of this without that feeling that He’s watching over me and there’s a reason why I’m here.”

This season, Pulisic was given the No. 10 shirt — previously held by Eden Hazard — and although a hamstring problem sustained in August’s FA Cup Final defeat to Arsenal has curtailed his progress, limiting him to just 10 starts in all competitions, the 22-year-old added: “When you come into a new club, a new coach, you always have to prove yourself.

“And I think just over time, I just continued to show it and show it, and finally I think they realised, you know — this kid can play.”

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