For those of us lucky enough to have seen them in their prime, there was a sense of an impossible standard set for future generations.
Billy Gilmour chose to view the midfields of the major sides of Barcelona and Spain differently.
The Ardrossan boy didn’t want to stand alone and admire the large carousel in full swing. He wanted to climb on board in his mind.
Billy Gilmour shared how he grew up admiring the Spanish midfielders of Barcelona
“When I was young, I always watched Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – everyone did it,” he explained.
“But when I started analyzing my game and thinking about who I would like to become, it was more like Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Cesc Fabregas – it was those players.
“It was about how they passed the ball and received the ball, everything was sharp. Sergio Busquets too. If you look at Barcelona and specifically look at Busquets, everything around him happens.
“Those are the kind of players that I looked up to, get on the ball and make things happen.”
A product of nature, nurturing and evidently the power of inspiration, the 18-year-old’s early outings into Chelsea’s first team have received critical acclaim from some who don’t trade in hyperbole for the sake of it.
Gilmour looked at Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, but didn’t want to play like them
By saying that Gilmour “looked like a world-class player” after his man-of-the-match showing in the 4-0 win over Everton in March, Roy Keane confirmed the growing consensus around the young boy from Ayrshire.
Just five days after Gilmour had played a major role in a 2-0 win over Liverpool in the FA Cup, the midfielder immediately crossed the category of one to watch. He had arrived.
“In the run-up to the games, I always thought about what I was going to do,” he said. “When the gaffer (Frank Lampard) spoke to me, he said,” Go out and play your own game. ” That gives you a lot of confidence to go out and do what you love.
“In the game (against Liverpool), there were parts that I found difficult, but when I got the ball, I felt good. I had players run away so it made it easy for me.
“It was a great, great game, so I was happy to play well. And when I received the man-of-the-match award it was great.
“I never thought of it, I just wanted to play the game well, not ruin anything and play the game well.
“I felt good to gain experience with the first team against Liverpool, the best team in the world at the moment.”
The Englishman says Xavi (L) and Andres Iniesta are the type of players who modeled his game
Would Gilmour have been put in the spotlight if Chelsea had not come under a transfer embargo? We will never know.
But any doubt about his ability to make it there has always been reserved for others. Reflecting on the decision to move from Rangers to London in July 2017 at the age of 16, he said: “When I was with Rangers, the youth coaches were great and helped me a lot. I went to a performance school in Scotland where you follow individual training at an academy.
“So instead of going to a geography class, you play football during that time.
“My dad also played football and always said I should keep it simple, work hard and you can’t go wrong.
“Back then (when I moved to Chelsea), I didn’t really know what was going to happen. But when I went down, saw everything and they had a plan, it was incredible. It was a dream.
“I always wanted to play in the Premier League to test myself and see what my limit is.
Gilmour arrived at Chelsea as an attacking midfielder, but has grown into a deeper role
“When I first came I would say I was more of an attacking midfielder and then Jody Morris turned me into a deeper player. It’s best for me to get on the ball and start playing, but I like to play everywhere. ‘
Named on Scot Gemmill’s last Under-21 team, there remained a possibility of a call to Steve Clarke’s full party before the pandemic chilled out the Euro 2020 playoff with Israel. While it’s hard to say when exactly that game will take place and which players Clarke will have available when it does, Gilmour, you suspect, will be ready.
“Everyone knows my feelings about representing my country,” he added. “Hopefully I am not far away. I just have to keep working hard and see where it takes me.
“After the Liverpool game, I changed shirts with Andy Robertson. He came up to me and said, “Good job, you played very well. Keep doing it and hopefully I will see you soon in the selection of the first team “.
“It was great to hear that from the captain of the country. Then I asked him if we could exchange shirts and he said “No problem”. So I was buzzing. ‘
It says a lot that there is now an appreciation for his talent that goes beyond those with an established interest.
The young midfielder stops Takumi Minamino from Liverpool during an FA Cup match in March
When looking at the 18-year-old excel in Chelsea blue, Jack Wilshere, the West Ham midfielder, sees Gilmour only through the prism of a supporter.
As anyone who has seen former Rangers trainee Stamford Bridge light up with a touch and vision contradicting his early years, the man from England is fixated.
“Billy plays with his head because he’s not the biggest, strongest or fastest,” said the 28-year-old.
“He makes the game look so simple and that is what makes him so impressive.
‘You don’t often see a boy of that age, who has maturity on the ball and who can make the game look easy.
“Being able to beat when you’re not that strong and so fast is also something I like to do. If you are smaller and don’t have that strength, you have to get closer to players to feel them.
Jack Wilshere was impressed with how simple Gilmour can make the game look
“It is wonderful to see and I love to watch him. It looks like he has a bright future in the game. He is the type of player you like to watch. There are not many. ”
Gilmour is never bothered by a lack of free advice. But as someone who occupied their shoes ten years ago, Wilshere’s words are definitely worth it.
“Any advice for Billy would be to just keep doing what he’s doing,” he added. “Lampard clearly gives him the right advice and he has a good team around him. Just keep practicing, working hard.
“He seems to have that natural disposition. Many people said I had that natural disposition, but you quickly realize that it is not enough to survive at the top in the Premier League every week.
“You need something different about yourself. You have to work hard, have that little bit between your teeth every week and want to go out to perform. He is the best place to do it. ‘
The Lockdown Tactics is a new podcast hosted by former Scottish stars Robert Snodgrass and Kris Boyd. The core focus is mental health and wellbeing. The full interview with Jack Wilshere will be available on YouTube from noon on Tuesday and various social media platforms.