Mason Mount Exclusive: Bayern Munich On Another Level But Chelsea Will Get There
Mason Mount started last Premier League season as a name to fill the 'One To Watch' list in season previews. More than a year later he finished it as an established Premier League star and England international
Mount scored eight all goals in all competitions and made six more for his Chelsea teammates across 53 appearances. Gareth Southgate handed him his England debut in September 2019 during a 4-0 win over Bulgaria and two months later he scored his first goal for the Three Lions as England won 4-0 in Kosovo. Not bad for a 21-year-old's maiden season in England's top flight.
SPORTbible sat down with the Portsmouth-born playmaker at the launch of Nike's new England kit to look back on an eventful season and ahead to next summer's Euros...
Congratulations on a great season. What did you learn most about yourself during the campaign?
How strong you need to be as a Premier League footballer because the intensity is totally different to any other league. You've got to produce in every single game because you're playing against world-class players that are always going to make it hard for you. I've definitely learned so much from this season, more mentally than physical, because you've always got to be focused and on it and it's tough at times.
What was the highlight?
Scoring on my debut at Stamford Bridge (during a 1-1 draw with Leicester), that was obviously a massive moment for me. Winning both London derbies against Tottenham was also brilliant because those games mean so much to the fans and the club. Scoring against Wolves on the final day to secure Champions League football was also special.
1 year on... a day I'll never forget! @ChelseaFC pic.twitter.com/c4zqjCVlNU
- Mason Mount (@masonmount_10) August 18, 2020
And the low point?
Losing the FA Cup final to Arsenal was tough. The Bayern Munich game at Stamford Bridge was a difficult one to take. It was a big occasion and to be 3-0 down at half-time was very disappointing. It was always going to be tough coming back from that. We'll look back on that first leg and say, 'What could we have done to stop them?' Because while they may have been on fire, we know we should have done a lot better.
What's it been like to play with your fellow academy graduates in the first team?
To experience all of this with Tammy (Abraham), Fik (Fikayo Tomori), Cal (Callum Hudson-Odoi), Reece (James) and Billy (Gilmour) has definitely helped. It's kept us all grounded and wanting to work even harder to play more games and play big parts within the team. If you had spoken to all of us at the beginning of the season, we never would have thought we'd have this big of an impact on the season. It's been brilliant.
Have you played against anyone who you thought, 'Wow, this guy is on another level'?
The Champions League is on another level. The games feel different. Bayern have some unbelievable world-class players... Lewandowski, Kimmich and Thiago in midfield, I just couldn't get near him. They moved the ball around the team so quickly. When you're up against players like that you're thinking, 'How are we going to stop this?' It was a big moment, it opened my eyes. It made me realise, 'This is the next level, this where you need to be.' And I am determined to work hard and reach that level.
What did you learn from that experience?
The Bayern team have been together for a very long time, they know each other inside out and they're all world-class players that have played hundreds of games; World Cups, Euros, big Champions League finals. They've been through it all so they had a big advantage over us younger boys. Obviously it's difficult to take a loss, but when you go through a game like that you learn so much, you learn so much more than if you win 3-0. It was a tough lesson, but we've taken so much from that experience and we'll come back stronger.
What's it been like working with Frank Lampard? What have you learned from him?
Obviously I worked with him at Derby County and he spoke to me about the timing of my runs in the box and what positions I can get into to score goals. Working with him last season has been another level, I've had to step it up. As a midfielder it's been brilliant to learn off him, I just want to keep progressing.
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After impressing with Chelsea, you worked your way into the England team. What did that feel like?
Four years ago I was at home watching Euro 2016 with my family and I felt that desire to be in the squad in years to come. I knew that if I kept working hard and focused that I could be involved at Euro 2020. That was my target. Obviously, I don't know if I would have been picked, but I'd put myself in a good position. It was a real shame the tournament was postponed, but we all understand why and what had to be done.
Do you remember watching the 2018 World Cup?
I was in Russia for the Tunisia game and the atmosphere was another level. That was the first World Cup I'd watched live and it made me feel so excited. Right then I knew I wanted to play in one in the future.
Did you sing, 'It's Coming Home' in the stands?
I may have broken into a little song [laughs]. I'm an England fan and loved watching the team when I was younger. Now to be involved with the boys, it's an unbelievable feeling. Hopefully football will come home next summer. We want to win the big trophies.
Why did the 2018 World Cup campaign feel so special to you?
The big thing that stuck with me was seeing everyone come together, watching the games on TV and then when we scored, seeing all the beers fly everywhere. It was amazing to see how much football means to this country.
If Scotland win all their play-off games they could be in England's group at the Euros and you could be playing against your Chelsea teammate Billy Gilmour. How do you imagine that clash going?
We always have banter between each other about Scotland and England so it would be brilliant to play against him. It's a big rivalry and I'd love to be involved. Billy showed just how good he is when he came into the team and it was a real shame when he got injured. He'll come back stronger and hopefully we can play against each other next summer.
Did you have any advice for me when he came into the team?
I might have said something like, 'Stay calm and play your stuff because if you do what you've been doing in training you'll be fine.' But Billy is a very switched-on boy and he knows what he wants.
Why did you get so scared bro? :joy::joy::joy: @_DeclanRice pic.twitter.com/ZjR8m5J1JI
- Mason Mount (@masonmount_10) July 3, 2019
If you and Declan Rice get selected for the Euros squad, do you think he'll try and get revenge on you for the sleeping prank?
Maybe. I see Dec a lot and he hasn't gotten me back yet. He's tried. A couple of camps ago he came to my room and I went to the toilet. I could hear banging and was thinking, 'What's he doing in there? He's up to something.' Then, I came out of the toilet and he was nowhere to be seen... but I could see his toes hanging out from under the bed. He didn't know I'd seen him, so I went to the other side of the bed and his head was just there. I probably scared him more than he was going to scare me.
The video of you training as a boy, explaining how you model your free-kick technique on Cristiano Ronaldo emerged after your goal against Wolves. If England won a free-kick during a big game next summer, would you want to step up and take it?
I would never back down from an opportunity like that. I would always feel confident to step up and produce. When I'm on the football pitch, I feel like there's no much pressure. I've done it my whole life.
"That's all you do..." @Cristiano ♂️:joy: pic.twitter.com/yRs0T58OS5
- Mason Mount (@masonmount_10) November 22, 2019
Would you use the Ronaldo ball-striking technique?
Yes. I still use it now and again, but I've changed my technique a little bit. I don't really run up straight as he does. I change my approach for different scenarios. If you're trying to curl it from distance, the goalkeeper can guess where it's going to go, but if it's moving, it's hard. That's why the knuckleball technique can be useful when you're shooting from a long way out.
Imagery: Nike/PA Images