Former Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand hailed ‘immense’ Reece James after Chelsea’s Champions League final victory over Manchester City.
James produced a brilliant performance at wing-back to help Thomas Tuchel’s side secure a 1-0 win in Porto and win the Champions League for a second time.
Ferdinand told BT Sport: ‘He’s a product of the youth academy and we’ve seen some people questioning him, for Chelsea and England.
‘Well tonight he performed on the biggest stage and was the standout, he was immense. He backs himself in one-v-one situations.
‘If you’re going to play at the top level you have to do that. Today he became a man. Today he answered all those questions.’
Chelsea had beaten Man City twice since Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard as manager in January and the club maintained their dominance over the Premier League champions at the Estadio do Dragao.
It was Germany international Kai Havertz who scored the winning goal and Ferdinand also paid tribute to Tuchel after the 1-0 win.
“He’s so comfortable in possession.”
“He backs himself in one vs one situations.”
“His delivery is as good as anyone I’ve seen.”@GaryLineker, @rioferdy5, Joe Cole and @JoleonLescott talk Reece James ðª#UCLfinal pic.twitter.com/XX8rNrmjpM
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 29, 2021
The Manchester United legend added: ‘Thomas Tuchel has come in and put on a tactical masterclass today. To do what he has done coming halfway through the season is nothing short of a magician.
‘They’ve had to come together as a squad, a lot of doubt was put on them as a team and as individuals but now they have marched on.
‘He has come into this country and played Pep Guardiola’s side three times this season and won all three.
‘This will tie these players and members of staff together for life.
‘This is what they will be talking about in WhatsApp groups together for years and years to come. I have it now and these guys have joined that club.’
It was disappointment for Premier League champions Manchester City and manager Pep Guardiola, who came up short in his first Champions League final in ten years.
He said: ‘It has been an exceptional season for us. It was a tight game. We had chances.
‘We were brilliant in the second half, we were brave and we could not convert the chances as they were so strong. The players were exceptional. We come back maybe one day again!’.