Conor Gallagher once tried to hide from Thomas Tuchel in a pub – now he’s pestering German to get in Chelsea team
CONOR GALLAGHER overcame his shyness to convince Thomas Tuchel he must be part of Chelsea’s plans this season.
The boyhood Blues fan, 22, took a calculated risk by sticking around at Stamford Bridge this season — and there is no convincing him otherwise.
In April, after he was denied the chance to play for loan club Crystal Palace against Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final, Gallagher had an awkward encounter with boss Tuchel in a pub while having lunch with his girlfriend.
Midfielder Gallagher said: “I was trying to hide! It was funny because I saw him through the window and whispered to my girlfriend, Mum and Dad, ‘God, it’s Thomas Tuchel walking in’. He walked in and sat on the table right next to us so he couldn’t miss me.”
Tuchel said at the time: “I had the chance to speak to Conor, I could also see his frustration. We ran into each other in a restaurant and we had a chat. The subject came up . . . I apologised because I know how competitive he is and I like him a lot.
“I know his character very well but this is the way it is. We play to win the game and the rules were clear when we made the loan.”
Yet after Gallagher’s incredible spell with the Eagles last season, which included a senior England call-up, there was no need to hide.
At the end of the campaign, after netting eight league goals in 34 games, Gallagher decided to call Tuchel for a clear-the-air chat about his future.
Gallagher said: “I said to him first I think that I’m ready to play for Chelsea. I said you know that’s what I want to do.
“Managers aren’t scary. They want to know what your thoughts are and what you think. I told him what I thought and he said what he thought. That was the best way.
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“I was just being honest. He expected it after the loan to Palace.”
Tuchel told Gallagher that he is in his first-team squad plans for next season.
It is a risk which could backfire should he get benched, with the likes of Mason Mount, Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kante ahead of him.
Gallagher, yet to make a senior appearance for Chelsea, said: “You can say it’s a gamble but I feel like I’m ready for a step up in my career. If there is a chance to be a part of the squad at Chelsea and part of the team, then I can’t turn it down — I’ve got to take that challenge and see what happens.
“There’s a lot of world-class midfielders in the squad, so I know I need to prove myself.
“If you deserve to play then you’ll play, age doesn’t matter. I definitely know it doesn’t make a difference to Thomas Tuchel here.
“I’ve always said I want to play for Chelsea because it’s the team I love and I have watched growing up.”
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