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10 Questions with… Mason Mount – Christmas Day Special

At the end of a rollercoaster year during which he has won two club trophies, reached two other finals and been named Chelsea Player of the Year, we sat down to reflect on 2021 and talk Christmas in 10 questions with Mason Mount…

The boyhood Blue has become a man over the past 12 months, not to mention a European champion too! From his assist for the match-winning goal in Porto to establishing himself as one of the team’s most reliable attacking options under Thomas Tuchel, Mount is now firmly part of the furniture at Stamford Bridge.

In this exclusive interview, the 22-year-old discusses his changing role in the side and the work he is doing to add goals to his game, while also revealing how he struggled at the start of 2021/22 after such a demanding end to the season and gruelling summer with England at Euro 2020.

Plus, as it’s a special Christmas Day treat, we talk about how Mason likes to spend his festivities, how his holiday time has changed over the years and the bizarre Secret Santa gifts exchanged at Cobham. So grab yourself a mince pie, sit back and enjoy!

  • Mason, the end of the year is always a good time to be reflective so let’s start by going back all the way to January. With results patchy and a change of manager, could you ever have imagined things going the way they have in 2021?

Looking back on the year, you always say there’s ups and downs but the emotion of it all has been extreme. What happened back in January and how we were at the time, it was obviously a big low point.

With a new manager coming in, having that transition period that I’ve never experienced before mid-season, you have to work things out and find your position within the team again. It’s just about working hard every day in training and then to finish the season with a Champions League trophy shows how you go from the lows to the highs in football.

It was what we all dreamed of and that’s what we achieved as a group and as a club so it’s special. For me then to go away with England in the summer at the Euros and get to another final, these are the things that you learn from and you quickly want to achieve more. We obviously started with the Super Cup this season and we have that taste of winning big trophies so we definitely want to carry that on in 2022.

  • It really has been a lesson in expecting the unexpected in football!

Yeah, exactly. You never know what’s going to happen around the corner, whether good or bad, so it’s just about enjoying what’s going on in the moment and trying to learn as much as you can and take something from every day.

That’s the mindset I have. You might get injured tomorrow or you could be winning a trophy in a couple of months, even if you don’t expect it right now, which is sort of what happened with us last season with the Champions League.

  • We’re now in that position where we can be pushing for first in the league but we know if we let it slip or drop our standards a little bit then you’re out of the title race. That’s the league we’re in and the competition we have so we have to always be on it.You’re now into your third season as a first team player at Chelsea but this year has been particularly challenging, with a shortened 2020/21 and a quick turnaround from the Champions League final to Euro 2020 to the new campaign. You’ve played 67 games for club and country so far in 2021 but was that all taking its toll at the start of this season?

In my head I wanted to play and I was trying to tell myself I wasn’t tired or fatigued. As a person, I want to play every game and be able to help the team in any way I can but if I look back now I probably was a bit physically and mentally drained.

After two seasons playing a lot of football and coming off the Champions League and the Euros, it does take a toll so I probably was a bit drained. You then start getting these little injuries here and there which I don’t normally get. I had a little hamstring injury which put me back for a couple of weeks and then had the problem with my wisdom teeth.

You never know it’s going to happen but it did and you have to deal with that so at the beginning of the season it was a bit stop-start and hard to build consistency and to be at a level that I probably ended the season on.

I wasn’t starting that many games, was coming on as a substitute and it’s difficult to have that level which I feel like now I’m getting back to after a bit of a break. It definitely helps to re-energise mentally and physically if you want to consistently be at the top of your game.

  • We’ve seen you playing a lot more on the right of the front three this season, as opposed to the left where you operated from through the majority of 2020/21. What are the main differences between the two roles and how important is your connection with Reece James when you play closer to him?

Last season I did mostly play on the left and it was a different type of role for me, coming in on my right foot more rather than going down the line or making runs in behind. It’s a different type of position and movement.

Playing on the right recently is something that I’ve grown into and got more used to this season having playing there more and more. It’s about me and Reece having that connection to combine, create chances and score goals. It was nice the other week when Reece set me up to score against Everton and we know each other so well.

We work off each other easily because if he’s inside then he knows I’ll be on the outside, trying to break the line and make the run in behind, and if I’m in the middle then he’ll be doing the opposite, staying wide and it will be me trying to find him and combine with one-twos.

It’s just about building that connection we’ve always had. I’ve known him for a long time, I know what he likes to do when he has the ball and when he doesn’t have the ball, and he knows the same about me. It’s a good connection but we’ll always be working on it and trying to do the best for the team.

  • Your recent goalscoring form has been pretty impressive! Four goals in four league games represents the best scoring run of your Chelsea career. What do you put that improvement down to?

I’m always someone who wants more and I’m never content so I’m happy to be in good form in front of goal but I want more. I want double figures as quickly as possible! I think I’ve matched what I had last season in the Premier League already so it’s about now pushing even more, wanting to score more.

I’d put it down to a lot of work with [assistant coach] Joe Edwards. I’ve worked closely with him recently around how to get in the box more. We looked at my numbers from last season to the beginning of this season and how I wasn’t getting into the box as much.

He said to me ‘you need to start being more of a regular threat and getting in there because when you do get the opportunity to score, most of the time you will put it away with the quality you have, so if you get in there you’ll be able to score more.’ We spoke a lot about it and a couple of games later I’m getting goal after goal so I do give a lot of credit to him for that because it opened my eyes a bit and showed me that I need to push and get into the box more.

He showed me a couple of clips as well from the games where we’re on the attack and I’m not busting a gut to get into the box. I’m kind of hanging on the edge of the area but most of the goals scored in the Premier League, and definitely for us, come from inside the penalty box. There are not many scored from outside so I’ve realised that and really pushed and now I’m getting the rewards from it.

  • As it’s Christmas, let’s talk about life as a footballer at this time of year. You used to have a two-week break when you were in the Academy but there are no such luxuries in senior football…

I used to really enjoy that little period where we could go home, spend time with the family and just have a break. When you get to a certain age, that just stops, although when I went on loan to Vitesse we actually had a winter break so I was able to come home to see everyone and spend it at home so that was really good.

That doesn’t happen in England but this is my third season at Chelsea now so you are used to it, even though it doesn’t make it any easier. We’ll be staying at a hotel on Christmas Day this year so it’s not something you really enjoy because you want to spend the day with your family but that’s the industry we’re in and the job we’ve got. Most importantly, we know that there are three points on the line on Boxing Day so we have to be prepared.

  • At least you’ll have some time with your families on Christmas morning…

The game is away this year so we have the morning with our families and then we’ll meet up later in the afternoon for training before we travel to Birmingham for the Villa game. It gives us a chance to celebrate it together as a team, like the big family we are, like we did last year and then hopefully we get the three points the next day.

My brother, sister and my niece will all be coming up in the morning to join me and my parents so to spend it with them, particularly my little niece, will be nice. It’s a special time of year and to see her face when she’s opening presents does make you very happy. I’m looking forward to that!

It’ll be a family Christmas for Mount – in the morning at least – before the team train and travel to Birmingham

  • What about Christmas lunch? I’m not sure the nutritionists would be too happy if you tucked into a traditional turkey roast with all the trimmings 24 hours before a match?

We usually have a team lunch about two weeks before at the training ground. I reckon you could get away with it the day before a game but we usually have a Christmas breakfast together with our families instead.

It depends on how late I wake up but normally I get forced to get up at the crack of dawn because my sister always wakes up so early on Christmas morning. She has two dogs so she just barges into my room, lets the dogs free and they’re just jumping on me in bed.

I’m just like ‘no, give me another hour’ but they’re going crazy. Now I have my niece around as well so I have to get up really, don’t I? I can’t be lazy Grinch on Christmas Day, even if I want to stay in bed. Sleep is so important for us so any time I get the chance I just want to lie in but on Christmas morning it’s probably more important to get up.

Mason enjoys Christmas lunch at Cobham a couple of years ago

  • What’s the best Secret Santa gift you’ve given or received among the team?

I had Ross Barkley last year and got him a WWE belt, a John Cena headband and the ‘you can’t see me’ t-shirt because I think he kind of looks like him. I think he took it home and he’s still got it now!

I can’t remember who had me but I was given the biggest pack of sweets you could ever find because I’m like the kid of the group, and I also got a Gareth Southgate book. Someone was trying to give me banter.

  • And finally Mason, we know there will be people at home on their own this Christmas, especially with the rising number of Covid cases in the UK and quarantine rules. Do you have a message for them and the rest of the Chelsea fans?

I have some experience of that from the Euros and the most important thing is being safe but you can still get involved, do a Zoom call or FaceTime your loved ones and family to make it feel like you’re there.

It’s not a nice thing to be on your own, especially at this time of year, so I feel for anyone in that situation. Get some Christmas movies going like Home Alone and Elf but just try to stay positive. I hope everyone has the best Christmas they can and an even better New Year.

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