Scottish prodigy Billy Gilmour, Champions League winner and future Chelsea, is ready for the next challenge. He has already experienced so much during his short trip. Regular Premier League football with Norwich City is expected to accelerate its progress.
After a strange summer that saw him face England at Wembley before the coronavirus reduced his Euro 2020 the next morning, Gilmour quickly settled into life at Carrow Road. Daniel Farke identified him as the midfielder to play his team.
It will be a fit for the youngster. It wasn’t until the start of last season that Gilmour first moved into his own accommodation. “Now I have my own place here,” he said Air sports. “It’s going well. I’m learning to cook, again.”
He doesn’t have to go far to get advice from the best. Gilmour and his family had the opportunity to have lunch with club majority shareholder Delia Smith at the stadium on her first day, the final Canary Islands initiation ceremony. “She loves Norwich so much.”
He was accompanied by his parents and younger brother Harvey, a considerable talent himself, who amused himself with impromptu juggling on the training ground. “He’s a good little player.” The warm atmosphere of the club certainly looks like a good fit.
Grant Hanley, Norwich captain and international teammate, is there to support him, as is fellow Scottish man Kenny McLean. But there is no doubt that for all equipment, the driving force behind the deal is the expectation that this is the right club for Gilmour on the pitch.
“While I was on an international mission, I would ask Grant, ‘How is it? What’s the style? What’s the boss? I was bombarding him with questions all the time. He was just being honest with me. Everything he said to me was really good.
“I had a few options but for me Norwich was the first choice. I came here, talked to the boss, and everything he said sounded really good, the way he wants to play, the way he sees me in my seat, which is what made my choice to come to Norwich easier.
“Norwich plays football that suits my style, plays from the back and wants to keep the ball. For me that was the perfect opportunity. It’s my kind of style of play where I want to play, get on the balloon and shake things up.
“When I was talking to the boss, he would just say he sees me in that position in midfield or that he sees me in that position in midfield, it just depends on the roster. He’s been really good to me. and I learn under him every day. “
This summer it was an abrupt learning experience. The Champions League victory in Porto, for which Gilmour was an unused substitute in the final, was special. He managed to lift the trophy on the field. “An amazing night, so it was. Lots of parties.”
This added to the anticipation of Scotland’s first major tournament in 23 years. After being omitted for the loss to the Czech Republic in the opener, Gilmour entered the squad for the second game against England and did well.
Then he tested positive for Covid-19.
His Chelsea teammates on the opposition team, Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell, were seen as close contacts and forced into self-isolation as well. A kerfuffle ensued with Gilmour, who had just turned 20, at the center of it all, even as he dealt with his own frustration.
“It was very difficult,” says Gilmour.
“I really enjoyed the game itself. I think another day we could have scored. We had our chances. Waking up and finding out I had Covid was boring because I felt good. It wasn’t the best end to what had to be a good summer. “
Now he’s considering what he knows will be a big season for him. There have been glimpses of his talent so far. The FA Cup debut last year as Chelsea beat Liverpool, followed by his Premier League debut in a 4-0 win over Everton, marked him as special.
But while Gilmour started three of the last five league games of last season as Thomas Tuchel pivoted the squad with cup games in the lead, he is yet to put together a real series of games at Chelsea. The plan is to show that he is ready for it, by developing himself by doing it.
“That’s why I came here,” he explains.
“I think most of the time I played for Chelsea was two games in a row. I needed to go out and get more experience in first-team football. I need regular football to develop myself. If I play week after week I will become stronger, sharper, I will become more aware. “
Chelsea will monitor his progress. “They are in touch, they will watch the games and send me the highlights, see what I can do best.” In order to come back? “That’s the goal. Have a very good season here with Norwich, go back to Chelsea and see what happens.”
But it is for the future. The immediate goal is to impress here. “I’m in Norwich now,” he adds, and fans have already made it known in a friendly victory over Gillingham at Carrow Road. “The fans, because it wasn’t full, were so loud.”
They will be louder on Saturday when Liverpool will be the visitors. “What a way to start a Premier League season,” said Gilmour with a smile. “I think just being back in the Premier League against these clubs like Liverpool will be amazing.
“You can really see there is a buzz about the place, everyone is excited for the start of the season. We have a tough first game but we are all looking forward to it. Norwich are a team who should be in the Premier League. We are back and we hope to stay. “
Watch Norwich vs Liverpool live on Sky Sports Premier League from 5pm this Saturday; kick-off 5:30 p.m.