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Jonathan Panzo
Gender Male
Ethnic English
Job English Footballer
Desc An England international at every level from Under-16 to U19, in 2018 Panzo opted to leave Chelsea after eight years in the Blues’ academy ranks. He landed in Monaco, where he has slowly been making a name for himself as a tough central defender

Affiliation

Org England U17 National Team
Club as Player AS Monaco
  Chelsea FC

2020 04 14 Retrieve

[Jonathan Panzo has been surrounded by superstars his whole life so it is no wonder that he has grown to become one of the most exciting young defenders in English football] At the time, Chelsea weren’t playing as much youth as I would have wanted to. I thought it would be better to experience something new and push myself in a new environment. Michael Emenalo [Chelsea’s former technical director] went to Monaco, he was a part of it. It just helped that he was there as a familiar face to make the journey across smoother. It was difficult, I was still young ,16-17, so it was outside my comfort zone. I did speak some French because of my mother so that did help me a bit as well. Chelsea weren’t giving many chances at the time and I thought Monaco might be a better chance for me to get my talent out more. It was crazy to work with a legend like Thierry Henry. I thought he was a good coach but unfortunately, things didn’t pan out well for him. That’s just how football goes. For me, he was good and I am grateful he gave me my debut. In the same dressing room as [Radamel] Falcao and I remember I always used to have him on FIFA. Cesc Fabregas arrived; he advises a lot of the younger players. He pushes us and keeps us working hard. He kept us humble and pushing, which was good. He is a nice guy off the pitch even after all he achieved. He is a great idol to have around

I was playing regularly, which is the main thing at a young age. I got a lot of minutes under my belt. The main thing was we stayed up in the league and we weren’t getting the wins we deserved. But we managed to stay up in the league. The coronavirus cancelled the league but we were going to stay up anyway. It was an exciting but difficult period for me which added to my experience. It was crazy. From winning every week, it was like ‘wow, what’s going to happen or maybe we could lose’. It was difficult because you have that pressure on you in a relegation battle. For both the position I play and my age, it was good to get lots of minutes under my belt because not many defenders in Europe around my age get the minutes they deserve. Every game counts for me that I get to play in whether it is a cup game. I just want every experience I can.

[The first people that inspired Panzo to be a success were his cousins] My cousin kept pushing me to play because we had this chemistry when we were in the same team. I wasn’t even interested in football. One day, I went to go watch his game and they needed an extra player. I was the only one who could play but I had to rush home for boots and shin pads. We won the game 1-0 and I was the one that scored. I was a striker and I got like 40 goals in 20 games in my first season when Chelsea’s scout Fiona spotted me. She is now my godmother! I was competing with Sammy Ompreon, who is now at Sheffield United, about how many goals we would score. I became a defender when I hit U11. My brother was a Manchester United fan so one of my main idols from when I was younger and still now is Cristiano Ronaldo. I liked him at United as he was one of the best players. Now I am in the game, I like his mentality as well, the way he looks after himself, the things he does to keep on improving on what he’s achieved. But now, I am a Chelsea fan! The main senior player that a lot of defenders looked up to was John Terry. He came over to the academy quite a lot. It was just great to see someone like him up close after what he achieved. He was a great defender, passer and he had that hunger. He had it all. He was one of the main people to look up to. I met him a few times and he took one of our sessions at U16. He came back from injury at one point and he was training one of our sessions. He is a great person, not just a great player. We were star struck. You looked over to your mate and were whispering, ‘Wow that’s John Terry!’, but you didn’t want him to notice it. Then you get used to seeing him after a while. That was around the U18 level; it was crazy, I think the last generation won three trophies and then we won four. So the last generation was a big motivation for us and the coaches like Jody Morris played a big part as well. He played a big part in training and motivating us. I would say he was quite a hard coach but he kept us going and motivated. That’s how we won all the trophies.

England is mainly in my thoughts. My mum said there have been a few approaches from Ivory Coast but my main thoughts are to one day get to the senior set up. My dreams now are to carry on playing in a top-five league and hopefully come back to the Premier League. I want to play at the top level of the Premier League, Champions League and to play for my national team

2020 04 15 Retrieve

[England Under-21 centre-back and Monaco youngster Jonathan Panzo is glad to see the country benefitting from the emergence at senior level of the generation which won the FIFA Under-17 World Cup back in 2017] Sancho was one of the first successful ones to do it. He got lots of respect from it. It inspired other players from the younger generation to do it as well. He has been fantastic. He is the same age as me and he is breaking records and it is just crazy. I hope he carries on doing that. I think there’s a high possibility that the majority of my team could do that and be successful at the top. I wouldn’t like to play against that front four, it is crazy-Callum, Sancho, Foden and Brewster [in the European Championship]. There was also Angel [Gomes], Tashan [Oakley-Boothe], Ryan [Sessegnon]. There’s just too many names to say, it is unbelievable. Of course, we knew we had the talent. But I think the main point was that we had the togetherness as well, we weren’t just individuals, we had the larger team in mind. We had great individuals, of course, although making it into a team gave us the power to take on anyone who came our way. Togetherness and talent make it better for all. We always knew Sancho had the talent and ability to do it but he also has the confidence to show it. Well, before I spoke to him and he just said, just be confident in yourself. Make sure it’s for you because everyone’s got a different pathway. Not everyone’s going to go and do a Sancho. Just make sure it’s for you and make sure you enjoy it. Just use it positively and use your talent. Work hard and make it work

We all knew from when he was young that Callum was going to be successful at Chelsea. We all knew it. It was just making everyone proud and he is doing what he normally does. I grew up with Callum and the things I have seen him do are crazy. He deserves it all and well done to him. I hope he carries on to be successful at Chelsea or wherever it takes him. From young, he was doing all the things you see now. It was crazy what you saw him do. He has a good family that push him as well. His dad helps him train and do extras and keeps him fit. So I would say it is a bit of both. I am buzzing that the players I played with are getting their chance. Billy Gilmour, Reece James and there’s too many to even name now. They deserve it all. Hopefully many more get through and Chelsea carry on to push their younger players. They have shown what they can do in the academy. They can do it on the bigger stage. It is unfortunate for some of us before that didn’t get a chance and maybe that’s the reason why I left but it is just how things happen

2020 04 21 Retrieve

[AS Monaco defender Jonathan Panzo on Hudson-Odoi’s meteoric rise] We all knew from when he was young that Callum was going to be successful at Chelsea. I grew up with Callum and the things I have seen him do are crazy. He deserves it all and well done to him. I hope he carries on to be successful at Chelsea or wherever it takes him. From young, he was doing all the things you see now. It was crazy what you saw him do.

I am buzzing that the players I played with are getting their chance. Billy Gilmour, Reece James and there’s too many to even name now. They deserve it all.

[However, Panzo expressed a bit of regret the leap from the academy to the senior squad was not as easy back when he was still at the club] It is unfortunate for some of us before that didn’t get a chance and maybe that’s the reason why I left but it is just how things happen