Nicolas Jackson: New Chelsea forward eager to emulate Blues idols

Nicolas Jackson: New Chelsea forward eager to emulate Blues idols
Photo by Icon Sport

Nicolas Jackson, the ex-Villarreal forward who recently signed an eight-year contract with Chelsea worth around £32m following a breakout 2022/23 campaign in La Liga where he netted 12 goals, has granted his first interview as a Blues player.

In his first interview with the official Chelsea website, the former Yellow Submarine forward revealed that he's followed the footprints of three particular strikers he idolised at Stamford Bridge while growing up.

He added that he knew of the interest from Chelsea while at Villarreal, and it became easy for him to conclude that's the only place he was going to be playing his football in the 2023/24 season.

For one, the young Senegal forward established himself with the Yellow Submarine last season and went on to make 38 appearances across all competitions for Villarreal.

Jackson also earned a call-up for the Senegal World Cup squad in 2022 where he made his international debut at the tournament in Qatar.

He would go on to finish the campaign for Villarreal as one of the Spanish top-flight's in-form players, scoring nine goals in the final eight matches of the season and winning the Player of the Month award for May.

It was an impressive season for the young man who caught the eyes of Chelsea and was bought by the London club in June.

And so, while at the West Stand area of Stamford Bridge, he revealed the trio of Blues strikers he idolised while growing up.

“I wanted to join a big team and Chelsea is one of the best teams in the world, plus I’ve watched them since I was young. I watched Demba Ba, Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka was good too, big players. So I always dreamed of playing for a team like this,” he revealed.

“When Chelsea came there was no question in my mind. I always had this kind of team in my mind. I talked to my family and my agent and I have icons who played here – Drogba and Ba, big strikers. So when Chelsea came my heart said the answer should be yes and I decided to follow it and come here.

“I remember the Champions League final in 2012 and especially when Drogba scored that header right at the end. I watched those players for Chelsea when I was growing up so I decided to follow in their footsteps. Hopefully, that’s what continues to happen now I’m here.”

Jackson also revealed how it won't be so much of a surprise about what he's expecting from the league since he's already known about Chelsea and the Premier League from his experiences while growing up, and also from the good advice he's received from others.

“I watched English football when I was in Africa and now I am here, so it’s a good feeling for me. I grew up watching the Premier League because for me it is the best league in the world, so I love the Premier League and I know a lot about it and Chelsea,” he continued.

“I met Demba when I went to Senegal with the national team and wanted to ask him about Chelsea when I saw him during the last international break, but I couldn’t because there were too many people around. So I decided to wait and text him about it once I have signed for Chelsea and send him the shirt I wore for my signing too.”

Jackson spoke to his agent, and even to Sadio Mane when he got the chance after Senegal's 4-2 win over Brazil in a friendly match in June, to enquire a few more things about the Premier League and about his new coach Mauricio Pochettino, who Mane knows very well from their time together at Southampton.

“I spoke to my agent Diomansy Kamara about the Premier League as well, because he played in England for a few teams, including Fulham, so he knows the league and this area. He told me everything about playing here so I know a lot about it,” he added.

Nicolas Jackson new Chelsea forward
Photo by Icon Sport

“I spoke to Sadio Mane about him (Pochettino) and he spoke very highly of him, he said amazing things about him. Sadio told me the manager will help me a lot to improve and do well if I listen to what he has to tell me, so that is exactly what I’m going to do.”

Jackson shed more light on how much things changed with him at the club and how unsurprised he was considering that he suffered an injury that laid him off for some months earlier in the season.

But he recovered fast and integrated into the Villarreal set-up, going on to have his role changed from a supporting striker to main striker for the team. A role he excelled in, scoring nine goals in the last eight games of the season for the Yellow Submarine.

“I wasn’t amazed or surprised at how well my season went, I wanted to do more! I didn’t do enough for me, because I had my goals to reach but I didn’t achieve the goals I wanted,” he quipped.

“It was very good but I wanted more. I am a guy that always wants more, but I always thank God for what he gave me. I’m always grateful and know how lucky I am to be able to do what I do, playing football for teams like this and in stadiums like this, but I always want to make the most of what I have been given, I always want to do better.

“I knew it was coming because I was working so hard. Everything just takes time and hard work. Before I was thinking that if I scored all the chances I had, I would have scored maybe 30 goals. I was working hard because I was missing some chances, but later I improved a lot and I improved everything, so I knew it would happen sooner or later and I was ready for it.”

Furthermore, Jackson spoke about his work ethic and what Chelsea fans should expect from him in the coming season:

“I always give my best and give 100 percent and always help the team, because I want to achieve things as a person and as a group. I always want more achievements, so hopefully if I work hard here those things will come and we will achieve things together at Chelsea, with the support of my teammates and the fans,” he concluded.

What's next for Nicolas Jackson?

Jackson will be eager to prove himself and win over Pochettino as Chelsea begin their summer preseason tour later in July, which will see them travel across the Atlantic to play in the United States.

The young forward will aim to write his name in gold for the London side just like his childhood heroes Drogba, Anelka and Ba did while playing for the London giants.

This article was most recently revised and updated 10 months ago

Joseph is a graduate engineer turned sports writer, he has covered lots of sports stories, match previews and predictions across various leagues on the planet.