‘I was Chelsea’s next best thing but injury ruled me out for three years’

Chelsea appeared to have the next wonderkid on their books when they beat the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona to the signing of Charly Musonda in 2012.


The then-15-year-old moved to Stamford Bridge from Anderlecht in his homeland and was tipped to reach the highest heights that football could offer.



But he was struck by a serious knee injury that kept him out for three years and departed the club last summer after making just seven first-team appearances. He is currently plying his trade for Anorthosis Famagusta in the Cypriot First Division.

After progressing through the Chelsea academy, Musonda impressed during a loan spell with Real Betis as a 19-year-old and was named man of the match as the team defeated Gary Neville’s Valencia at the start of 2016. The winger had won two league titles, two FA Youth Cups and the UEFA Youth League during his time in the Chelsea academy and was eventually handed his first team debut as a substitute against Arsenal in the 2017 Community Shield.

Following an unproductive loan stint with Celtic, Musonda then moved to Vitesse on a temporary basis in August 2018. But the player’s career was about to grind to a halt due to a cruel twist of fate as he sustained a knee injury on his debut, a friendly against Royal Antwerp.

“In that game, the ball was in the air and someone just put his studs in my knee,” the now 27-year-old told The Athletic. “As I hit the ground, I could feel something was wrong. It was almost half-time, so I was almost limping to half-time. As I was going into the changing room, my knee had swollen up.”

After returning to Chelsea for rehab, Musonda started doing training drills and sprints. But he felt his knee pop in one session. “From there, I felt something was severely wrong”, he continued.

More scans revealed Musonda had a grade two posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injury. But he decided to put off surgery. “If you have surgery on a PCL, it might change the mechanics of your knee, you might not come back the same. It might change your game completely.”

Musonda ended up rejoining Vitesse for a second loan spell a year after his initial one as he looked to resurrect his career. “It wasn’t completely healed, it wasn’t 100 per cent, even in the summer, but I felt it was getting better. I could sprint. I still had a bit of pain, but I thought I was finally getting better,” he explained.

But disaster struck once again during a training session and experts told him his only hope was to undergo the knife, despite the fact the operation could end his football career. “I was at the stage where my knee was completely swollen up every single time I was playing so I thought there was nothing else I could do,” he said.


“They told me if I did do surgery, it would be 10 to 12 months of rehab, so that would be two years out of football. It took three weeks of talking and speaking to more doctors but, in the end, I decided to have the surgery in Belgium.”

Following the operation, Musonda was forced to rehab by himself due to the Covid-19 lockdowns and finally returned to the pitch in January 2021. But after being struck down by Covid during the following pre-season and failing to make his mark in training, the player ultimately left Chelsea last August to sign for Levante. He then joined Anorthosis in September this year and has made three appearances for the club.

“It’s not like I had that moment, that stage where it was given to you and you didn’t take it,” he added. “That’s not the feeling I have of my time at Chelsea – and that’s what’s frustrating. I just want to play football. That’s where I’m at now. I just want to enjoy it again.

“Had I been fully fit and had a bigger opportunity, then obviously things could have gone differently. But at the end of the day, that’s life, that’s the way things go. You have to have faith in the future.”

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