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Friday 22 September 2017

Nathaniel Chalobah: Winning European Under-21 Championship would be amazing feat

Nathaniel Chalobah won the Premier League with Chelsea last season
Nathaniel Chalobah won the Premier League with Chelsea last season

England Under-21 midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah has set his sights on adding European silverware to Premier League glory.

Victory over hosts Poland in Kielce on Thursday would see the Young Lions top Group A and reach the semi-finals of the European Under-21 Championship for the first time since 2009.

It comes a month after Chalobah secured the Premier League title with Chelsea and, with his medal now a prized possession, he wants to pair it with a European one for England.

"Really? People give their medals away?" he said. " I didn't give it away, I'll tell you that. It's in a safe somewhere. After biting it a few times, I realised it was actually real.

"It's my first one I wasn't going to give that away, I'll tell you that.

"Winning (Euro 2017) would be an amazing achievement - unreal. I won't be throwing that one away either."

This tournament marks the end of Chalobah's international youth career and, i f England reach the June 30 final and the 22-year-old plays every game, he will end his under-21 spell with 98 caps from all age groups, having started for the under-16s - when he was 13 - in 2008.

Aidy Boothroyd's side beat Slovakia 2-1 on Monday after an opening 0-0 draw against Sweden, and Chalobah does not want his international days to end this summer.

He said: " Not everybody makes the jump (to the seniors) but it's the target. I'm sure those who didn't get there have always tried. It's a pathway for all the players

"It (qualification) is in our hands and I think that gives us a little bit more responsibility. I think if we take that into the game in the right way then we should be fine.

"We've got to go into the game with the mindset to still win. It's down to us, really, and I don't think it's about complacency because we've only won one game so we've just got to kick on from there now and be positive."

Chalobah made his Chelsea debut in last season's EFL Cup win at Leicester after loan spells at Watford, Nottingham Forest, Middlesbrough, Burnley, Reading and Napoli.

Blues boss Antonio Conte continued to place trust in him and he made a total of 15 appearances last term, including 10 in the league.

"He showed faith in me in pre-season and he liked the way I was working. That was a confidence boost," Chalobah said. " As a player, you just get the vibe.

"It's a very high standard at the club and the club has an amazing academy and produces really top players.

"It's just there's that barrier getting in there and staying in there. You're playing for one of the best teams in Europe, they're in the Champions League and the demand is high on winning."

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