Miroslav Stoch

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Club: Chelsea
Position: Winger
Date of Birth: 19th October 1989
Place of Birth: Nitra, Slovakia
Height: 168cm
Previous Club(s): FK Nitra

Ranking: 3
Previous Rankings:

The Player

Miroslav, or Miro as he’s often called by his team-mates and coaches, might be small, but he’s perhaps the most dynamic player Chelsea have in their entire system. He’s shorter than Shaun Wright-Phillips, to give an indication of just how diminutive he is, but he’s also got a hell of a lot of technical ability to compensate for his physical shortcomings.

Chelsea first spotted him when he dominated for Slovakia in a youth tournament. Further scouting revealed a devastating scoring record for a winger in his native Nitra, and enticed Chelsea’s academy to sign him for the start of the 2006/07 season as part of a smaller first-year intake of six players. Lining up on either flank in the club’s 4-3-3 system, his pace and dribbling made an immediate impact, but his poor English and poor mental approach on the pitch resulted in his end product being questionable.

That was just a mere kink in development though – a number of wingers go through the exact same process and are still getting there in professional football. Miro’s performances at Under 18 level warranted Reserve call-ups and his goalscoring record during his first season was impressive, easily into double figures for the campaign.

His second year saw an almost full-time move into the Reserves, where he would be able to test his physical development against men, and again, he came through with flying colours. Under 18 level was to prove far too easy, reaching double figures in very few appearances, including four in a game against Ipswich. In Brendan Rodgers’ team, he faced some struggles, but more often that not was the star of the Reserve show.

His short height can play to his advantage at times, allowing his lower centre of gravity to take over and get him out of tough situations. His acceleration is superb, allowing him to knock the ball past a player and get ahead before being engaged in a physical battle. He’s incredibly skilful and possesses a really powerful shot for a short player.

2008/09

Miro has dominated at Reserve level this season, putting in eye-catching performances in high-profile friendlies against Milan and Liverpool, games in which Chelsea won 4-0. He was key in both outings, scoring and creating at will. An interested onlooker was Luiz Felipe Scolari, who chose to make Stoch a part of his regular first-team squad. He made a first team debut as a late sub in the home defeat to Arsenal and has since made half a dozen appearances from the bench, including one at Anfield.

He played a key part in the late comeback against Stoke in January, providing a wicked cross from which Frank Lampard crashed the winner home, whilst going on to make his Slovakian national team debut in February during a four-team tournament.

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