Armando Broja gives dad perfect gift with ‘amazing’ first Chelsea goal | Chelsea

The wait was less than a minute but for Armando Broja it must have felt like hours. He had just scored his first goal for Chelsea, in the process sealing a much-deserved 3-0 victory against Wolves, when it flashed up on the screens at either side of the pitch at Stamford Bridge that VAR was checking for offside. Cue boos from the majority of those in attendance and a growing sense the strike was going to be ruled out. But soon came confirmation that it stood. The boos turned into cheers and for Broja there was an opportunity to once again celebrate.

He was not the only member of his family to do so. In the stands his parents were also overjoyed, with their son’s breakthrough moment at the weekend particularly special for one of them. “Today is my dad’s [48th] birthday,” Broja said afterwards. “It was a really good gift for him.”

Of that there is no doubt and few could blame Xhevahir Broja if all he spoke to colleagues and customers about upon returning this week to his job as a swimming pool installer was “Armando’s goal”. There will be pride not only in its quality and staging but also in the patience and dedication shown by his boy so he could find himself in that position in the first place.

For sure it has been a long time coming, with Broja joining Chelsea’s academy at the age of eight and working his way through various youth levels before finally getting the chance, aged 18, to make his first-team debut in a 4-0 win against Everton in March 2020.

His progressed then stalled, in large part because of Covid, and it required two season-long loan spells, with Vitesse Arnhem and Southampton, before he was able to play again for Chelsea at senior level. That has come this season, with Broja regularly deployed as a substitute by Thomas Tuchel before his sacking last month. Graham Potter has maintained that use of the forward and it was under his watch that it all came together for him on Saturday when in the 89th minute, and having again stepped off the bench, he collected Mateo Kovacic’s through pass, moved across Max Kilman and sent a powerful drive into the far corner of the net. It was tight but it was definitely onside.

“I’m really happy I was able to get my first Chelsea goal, it was amazing moment for me and my family,” said Broja, who was born in Slough but represents Albania at international level. “It had been difficult for my parents mostly. They always try to give an easier life for me and my two sisters and it is thanks to them for helping me throughout my journey. I’m so happy I could score for them.”

Armando Broja fires the ball through a group of Wolves defenders to put Chelsea 3-0 ahead
Armando Broja fires the ball through a group of Wolves defenders to put Chelsea 3-0 ahead. Photograph: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Scoring is something Broja has done throughout his adolescent career and, as such, it is perhaps no surprise Chelsea fans have been vocal on social media in calling for him to be given a first start. With his imposing 6ft 3in frame and aggressive, energetic manner, the 21-year-old certainly looks ready for the full-on demands of top‑flight football. But at a club like Chelsea it is never going to be as straightforward as that, especially for an inexperienced forward who finds himself in the same squad with a finisher as seasoned as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Broja is aware of that and, if anything, sees his current circumstances as a positive rather than a negative.

“As a young player you thrive at a massive club like Chelsea, surrounded by amazing players in such a good environment,” said Broja, who signed a fresh six-year deal at Stamford Bridge having returned from Southampton in the summer. “Aubameyang coming in has been amazing. I have learned a lot from him in training and in games.

“The manager is also a really good person. He’s easy to talk to and said to me: ‘Just keep working hard, opportunities will come when you work hard.’ I’m thankful he trusts me.”

Next up for Chelsea is the Champions League visit to Milan on Wednesday. Broja is unlikely to start at San Siro but could again come on as a substitute, which in itself would be another reason for the family to cheer, for Xhevahir especially given his all-time favourite player is Ronaldo, the Brazil legend who graced the legendary venue in the colours of both the Rossoneri and Internazionale.

“He loved watching R9 and always wanted me to play like him,” said Broja before pausing to reflect on what he has achieved and could still do, starting in midweek. “For me it’s been amazing. Life’s gone really quick.”

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