Gabriel Slonina has been making the headlines recently since Chelsea struck a £12 million ($13m) deal with MLS outfit Chicago Fire during the summer transfer window to bring the goalkeeper to Stamford Bridge.
The 18-year-old is still seeing out this half of the season with Chicago and will make his way to London only in January, but this is still a significant opportunity for him and one that he believed was ‘fake’ when the chance arrived at his door.
“My friends always sent me screenshots of the internet rumors and my names with one of the best clubs in the world. It is still a bit weird as Chelsea is one of the biggest clubs and to think where I started from to get to that point is unbelievable,” Slonina told the Evening Standard.
“I almost thought it was fake [when Petr Cech called]. I had to listen in to make sure it was him, luckily I didn’t hang up. I couldn’t believe that I was talking to Petr Cech, so listening to him and his advice was an honor. I was super impressed that he knew my game.
“It shows how to conduct yourself when you get to a certain place in life. It is a credit to him and what a legend he is that he is trying to inspire younger keepers. He is a great guy. It’s great to have American owners and I want to prove they made the right choice,” he added.
Slonina is hoping to make his international debut for the USA at some point in the future. He is already a household name in the US, though, as he is the youngest home-grown signing in the hosts of MLS. He joined Chicago Fire at 14 and made his senior debut for the club when he was 17 years and 81 days old in August 2021. Since then, he has been a regular for the club and has gone on to make 43 appearances for them.