Chelsea loanee Levi Colwill says Huddersfield will upset the odds in the Championship play-off final… as ‘the new JT’ sets his sights on impressing Thomas Tuchel once he returns to Stamford Bridge after his loan spell
- Levi Colwill says Huddersfield can upset the odds at Wembley on Sunday
- The Terriers face Nottingham Forest in the Championship play-off final
- Colwill made 30 appearances for Huddersfield during his loan from Chelsea
- The 19-year-old has earned comparisons to Chelsea legend John Terry
Having spent his career in the comfortable surroundings of Chelsea, Huddersfield’s on-loan defender Levi Colwill is relishing the role of underdog in today’s Championship play-off final against Nottingham Forest.
Like Tammy Abraham, Reece James and Mason Mount before him, Colwill is proof that Chelsea’s academy kids can thrive in the tougher environment of the EFL.
The 19-year-old defender, who has earned comparisons with John Terry and Rio Ferdinand, has been key to the Terriers’ unexpected promotion charge, having finished 20th last season.
Levi Colwill has excelled at Huddersfield during his time there on loan from Chelsea
Even now, not many fancy them to beat in-form Forest at Wembley in a match worth £180million to the winners. But Colwill is looking forward to proving people wrong again. ‘We were predicted to get relegated at the start of the season. Now look at us,’ he says.
‘Even my friends were sending me tweets showing me different articles and trying to wind me up. People who think Forest are favourites for the final can think whatever they like. We will show what we’ve got.
‘Everyone seems to believe Chelsea players are wrapped in cotton wool. Reece and Mason had it. I heard the same but it came in one ear and out the other. Who is anybody to tell me what I can and can’t do? We do grow up with hunger at Chelsea because you’ve got to reach such high standards.’
Colwill has been dubbed the new JT at Stamford Bridge and even wears the No26 for Huddersfield. Style-wise, he is like a left-footed Ferdinand.
The 19-year-old made 30 appearances for the Terriers in the Championship this season
Several clubs wanted him on loan last summer but he opted for Huddersfield after being wowed on Zoom by manager Carlos Corberan, Marcelo Bielsa’s former No2 at Leeds. ‘Chelsea guided me and I discussed it with Neil Bath [head of development] but ultimately they left the choice to me. I’m the player, aren’t I?’ says Colwill.
‘Huddersfield lived up to the promises made but, to be honest, we’re in an even better position now than imagined.
‘It comes down to dedication. Nobody realises how hard we work. During the season we just got better and better. We’ve done well against the top teams because we’re a top team ourselves.’
Corberan has been a revelation, guiding Huddersfield to third. They are unbeaten in nine games, in which they have conceded only five. At the other end, goals are shared around, with top scorer Danny Ward on 14.
Colwill will be hoping to impress Thomas Tuchel when he returns to Stamford Bridge
Colwill’s ultimate aim is to make it with Chelsea but he would not close the door to staying at Huddersfield next season. One fancies Thomas Tuchel will be tuning in today, with Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen set to leave Stamford Bridge.
Though Colwill has never played at Wembley before, he has been a mascot there when his uncle Barry won the FA Vase with Sholing in 2014. ‘There is a picture of us walking on to the pitch,’ says Colwill. I remember looking up at the stands and thinking my uncle must be really nervous, so I don’t know how I’m going to feel!’
He will have plenty of support inside the stadium, with 50 friends and family cheering him on. Particularly proud will be parents Debra and Levi Snr, who make the 460-mile round trip from their home in Southampton to see every Huddersfield home game.
Whatever the result of the final, Colwill will then join up with England Under-21s, where team-mates including Anthony Gordon and Emile Smith Rowe have impressed in the Premier League this season.
The youngster has earned comparison to Chelsea legend John Terry as they both wore No 26
He is likely to join them before too long. Wearing the No26 shirt he says is more to do with his birthday being February 26 rather than paying homage to Terry, or indeed Huddersfield legend Chris Schindler, who had the same number.
Even so, Colwill hopes to chat with JT one day about what it takes to be a top player. ‘I’ve seen John around the Chelsea academy but never spoken to him personally,’ says Colwill. ‘But I’d like to talk to him about the game and life as a footballer.’
Colwill acknowledges this is the biggest game of his life. In the previous one, his Chelsea team were beaten by Manchester City in the 2020 FA Youth Cup final and he does not want to feel that pain again.
‘Seeing the other team celebrate isn’t normal. It hurts in your heart,’ he says. ‘We can’t leave Wembley with any regrets. We have to give it our all and that is what we are planning to do.’