HomeNews‘I learned a lot from Kepa’ – How Chelsea goalkeeper Cumming improved without playing
‘I learned a lot from Kepa’ – How Chelsea goalkeeper Cumming improved without playing
October 28, 2020
Footballers usually want to play all the time. However, last season, Jamie Cumming felt that his development would be better served staying at a club that wasn’t offering him any game time at all.
Cumming knew that there was little chance of him playing, given he was behind Kepa Arrizabalaga and Willy Caballero in the pecking order, but the 21-year-old saw it as an excellent learning opportunity.
“It might not have looked ideal from the outside,” Cumming tells Goal, “but my former academy coaches, Jody Morris, Joe Edwards and James Russell, assistant goalkeeper coach, made it easy for me to develop myself.
“Hilario, the goalkeeper coach, had done the role (reserve goalkeeper) himself and knew what I needed to do to improve.
“As a young player, I also learned a lot from training with Kepa and Willy, who are great people. Obviously, you want to start playing games eventually but I took everything I could out of that time.”
By the end of the season, though, Cumming was unsurprisingly itching to put everything he had learned into practice, so, when the chance came to join League Two Stevenage, he jumped at the chance to become a No.1.
“I just wanted to get something done as quickly as possible,” he admits. “Especially this season, with the whole Covid-19 situation, it has been a lot harder for people to get the loan moves they want.
“So, as soon as the opportunity arose to join Stevenage on loan, I couldn’t turn it down. I wanted to play and show what I can do, which is why I got the deal done so quickly.”
Going from one of the world’s biggest clubs to Stevenage, who play in the 7,800-seater Lamex Stadium just north of London, might seem like a step backwards to some observers, but Cumming sees things very differently.
“I never had the chance to play in non-league or at a lower level, like so many goalkeepers: from Nathan Baxter at Chelsea to England’s Jordan Pickford, Tom Heaton and Jack Butland,” he points out. “I have taken a different route.
“So, to be at League Two for my first loan is a great step. Any higher that this and people want senior, in-game experience.
“I see myself as a Stevenage player now, not a Chelsea player, so I have to focus 100 per cent on playing well here, and not look past that at the moment.”
Cumming has been on Chelsea’s books since he was eight, opting to join the Blues despite interest from Southampton and Portsmouth.
It hasn’t always been easy for young players to make the breakthrough at Stamford Bridge, so he is enthused by the fact that so many of his friends and fellow academy graduates have now been welcomed into the senior squad by Lampard.
“I think it was a long time coming because there were a lot of players before who maybe should have got a chance too,” Cumming argues.
“Of course, the transfer ban did help the younger lads but I think they would have broken through anyway, given the talent of Mason (Mount), Tammy (Abraham), Reece (James), Callum (Hudson-Odoi), Fikayo (Tomori) and Billy (Gilmour). They are all top players and many proved they could do it at the highest level by impressing on loan.
“Last year was a great experience for them all and with the signings Chelsea made this summer, I think it will improve youngsters because they are going to have to fight for their places even harder.”
Cumming’s goal of eventually becoming Chelsea’s first-choice shot-stopper has become even harder, with the arrival of Edouard Mendy during the transfer window to compete with Kepa for a starting spot.
However, he is confident that he has what it takes to make it all the way to the top and he intends to prove it one step at a time, starting with his loan spell at Stevenage.
“Everyone believes they can play at the highest level and I would like to think I could get to the Premier League in a few years,” he enthuses. “I have seen what the level is like but I believe in myself.