23 years ago today, Jody Morris made his Premier League debut for Chelsea at the age of 17 years and 43 days. In doing so, he became the youngest player to feature in the Premier League for the club; a record that still stands to this day.
With the demand for instant success at a giant club like Chelsea, the chances of an academy graduate breaking into the first team and dethroning a superstar is unlikely. However, on this day in 1996, Jody Morris did just that.
London born and bred, Morris climbed the ranks at Chelsea alongside close friend, and club legend, John Terry. Both were big fan favourites and did not have to wait long for their well-deserved opportunity in the first team.
Chelsea lined up against Middlesbrough in the Premier League on the 4th February 1996 with a baby-faced Morris eager to make an appearance from the bench. After a Gavin Peacock hattrick helped the Blues to a 5-0 lead, manager Glenn Hoddle turned to the 17-year-old and gave him the nod.
Morris entered the pitch with 18 minutes left in place of John Spencer who had scored Chelsea’s second goal earlier in the match. The teenager helped shut Middlesbrough out and earn a comfortable three points for the Blues in front of 21,000 fans at Stamford Bridge.
At the age of 17 years and 43 days, Morris still holds the record for the youngest player to represent the Blues in the Premier League. Current Chelsea youngsters Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ethan Ampadu came close to setting a new record, but both missed out by just over a month.
Morris won the club’s Young Player of the Year award the following season and went on to wear the blue of Chelsea a total of 124 times in the league.
After falling out-of-favour with Claudio Ranieri, Morris left West London in 2003 for the better of his career, most notably going on to represent Millwall and St Johnstone.
He could not stay away from the Blues for too long though, returning in the 2013/14 season as a member of the Under-21 coaching staff. Morris was eventually promoted to head coach of the Under-18s and, in a very successful period, helped develop some of the best talent the club has seen.
Since then, Morris has partnered up with former teammate Frank Lampard as his right-hand man at Derby County. The Rams currently sit 7th in the Championship after occupying a playoff place for the majority of the season.
Morris is turning into a very successful coach who is still well-loved by Chelsea fans. Many Blues supporters would welcome the now 40-year-old (sorry Jody) back to the club as a member of the coaching staff. He has always been known as a cheeky chap and continues to support Chelsea whenever they play.
A successful playing career looks like it will be followed up by an even more successful coaching career, and it all started 23 years ago today. Happy Anniversary, Jody!
Written by Liam Wilson.