Conor Gallagher ready to impress for England after development under Pochettino

Conor Gallagher admits he was “sad” to see Mauricio Pochettino leave Chelsea but is putting his own future to one side to focus on England’s Euro 2024 campaign.

The 24-year-old made 50 appearances last season for the Blues, captaining the side under Pochettino – who left Stamford Bridge by mutual consent in May.

While it proved a tumultuous campaign for Chelsea as a whole, Gallagher arguably played some of the most consistent football of his career, sealing himself a place in Gareth Southgate’s European Championships squad in the process.

Former Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino waves to the fans ahead of the Premier League match at Wolves

Pochettino paid the price for Chelsea’s sixth-placed Premier League finish and has been replaced by Enzo Maresca.

“Of course he has done so much for me so I was sad,” Gallagher said on Pochettino’s exit.

“Sad for him and coaching staff but really excited about the new manager coming in and myself and everyone at Chelsea is really excited to work with him.

“I think I have come a long way this season, I give a lot of credit to Pochettino and what he has done for me, gave me responsibility and trust at Chelsea.

“That puts me in a better position to be a bigger part of the squad at this tournament and I’ll do as much as I can to help England in the tournament.

“He just showed his belief and trust in me which is all a player wants to be honest. If a manager shows you a bit of love, it makes you play better.

“Long story short, it gives you confidence and that’s what it gave me so I just build on that.

“A lot of credit to Pochettino for giving me that opportunity to show Chelsea what I could do in the last season, hopefully there is still room for improvement.”

Despite being a favourite of Pochettino, Gallagher was linked with a move away from west London both before and after the Argentine’s stint in charge.

West Ham, Tottenham and Aston Villa have are all reported suitors, but Gallagher wants to keep his mind on all things England ahead of their Euro 2024 Group C opener against Serbia on Sunday.

“I’m a Chelsea player right now and like I said I am just focused on England and the tournament,” he said.

“I have just been focusing on England, this is the most important thing right now for me, for the country and I just want to start the tournament now.

“It is not difficult, I’m in a very privileged position to play for England and be at a tournament like this and I couldn’t be happier with the situation.”

Gallagher heads into his second major tournament with England having been a surprise call-up for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

England’s Conor Gallagher during a training session at the Al Wakrah Sports Club Stadium in Qatar
England’s Conor Gallagher during a training session at the Al Wakrah Sports Club Stadium in Qatar (Martin Rickett/PA)

He did not feature in the Middle East and Southgate’s side were beaten by France in the quarter-final but a year-and-a-half on he feels ready to have more of an impact this time around.

“In Qatar I was kind of expected not to play in a way, I still loved the experience and was so honoured to be there but I never expected to come on or start games,” he added.

“It is a couple of years on and I’m in a different position, I’ve developed well as a player and I’m hoping I can help the team more on the pitch in this tournament and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Things could have looked very different for Gallagher – who also qualified to represent either Scotland or the Republic of Ireland at international level.

While his dad’s side of the family are Irish, his grandfather on his mother’s side hailed from north of the border – but Gallagher failed to impress either nation when given the chance at youth level.

“When I was 15 or 16 I wasn’t good enough to play for the England youth team,” he revealed.

“So I think I went to train with one of the Scotland teams to see what I was like, and I wasn’t good enough for them either!

“So I managed to work my way back into the England youth set-up and was lucky enough to stay in it.”