Ian Maatsen: I glimpsed Chelsea’s Champions League victory party – now I want my own

Ian Maatsen celebrates scoring

Three years ago, Ian Maatsen told himself that one day it would be him video calling his friends from a Champions League-winning party.

Maatsen had just finished a season on loan in League One at Charlton Athletic, as he watched his parent club Chelsea win the Champions League on the television.

Now on his fourth loan away from Stamford Bridge, at Borussia Dortmund, Maatsen is preparing for a Champions League semi-final tie against Paris St-Germain and is hoping it will be him calling his mates from the winners’ party on June 1.

“I watched the 2021 final at home actually with some of my old team-mates,” said Maatsen. “When Chelsea won, we were all happy. I felt like I was part of it after being around those guys to train and keep memories together. It was special they won it.

“Also, a few other young players that I played with there went to travel to the final in Porto. They called me on FaceTime from there, it was unbelievable.

“It was Billy Gilmour and Tino Anjorin. I have a good connection with them and they showed me how the party was. I was so happy for them to experience that while I was building my own journey for myself. They experienced it and said it was an unbelievable feeling.

“I told myself ‘one day, I want to be one of those guys to be on the biggest stage, to show the world who I am, show the quality I have’. And now I have this opportunity, it’s crazy.”

‘Mbappe’s really fast – it’s a great test for me’

Maatsen’s determination dates all the way back to when Feyenoord released him aged 11 and was in evidence again last summer, when the left-back turned down a permanent move to Burnley to fight for a place at Chelsea.

So it is not a surprise to hear Maatsen, who was born in the Dutch city of Vlaardingen, say he is prepared to “die” to try to keep up with PSG star Kylian Mbappe in Dortmund’s semi-final – the first leg of which will be played in Germany on Wednesday night.

“Mbappe’s really fast. If I have to sprint with him, I’ll have to give it everything,” said Maatsen. “If I have to die, then I have to die to sprint, we will try our best.

“Everyone knows his quality. He’s a top player, world-class. We have to stop him, of course. I think it’s a great test for me to go up against the best and I’m looking forward to it.”

Maatsen’s journey to reach the semi-finals and a date with Mbappe has seen him pass through Charlton, Coventry City and Burnley on loan, before suffering a frustrating first half of this season on the Chelsea substitutes’ bench.

Chelsea's Ian Maatsen looks on during the Premier League match against Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on December 27, 2023
Maatsen made just three starts for Chelsea in the first half of the season but has started all 18 games since joining Dortmund on loan in January - Getty Images/Andrew Kearns

“My dad [Edward] always tells me the truth and always tells me the positive things, but also the consequences if you don’t perform,” said Maatsen. “He always brought me down to earth and said ‘no matter what you do, it’s your choice. But if you choose something, you have to stay behind it and give it your all’.

“Don’t make the decision and after two months think ‘I don’t want to be here’. Of course, not every decision is going to be nice in the beginning, but you can make it nicer for yourself if you believe in it, have a plan and don’t let people disturb you. People are always going to give their opinion, but everything happens for a reason. Any move I made was for a reason and well planned, and I can thank my dad for that.”

Maatsen started only three games at Chelsea this season before moving on loan to Dortmund, where he has started in all 18 of his appearances so far and scored in the Champions League quarter-final victory over Atletico Madrid.

Having seen the likes of Erling Haaland and Jude Bellingham succeed at Dortmund, 22-year-old Maatsen gave his opinion on why he believes it is such a good environment for young players to do well.

“I think the belief from the board, the coach, the technical directors, they’re all on the same page,” said Maatsen. “They all believe in me that I’m a talented player who can perform at the highest level and they gave me this opportunity.

“I think it’s special for players, young players, to come to this big club like BVB and show their skills to the whole world. I’m really grateful for this opportunity.”

Asked if he ever regretted staying at Chelsea last summer before joining Dortmund in January, Maatsen added: “Yeah, it plays with your mind, but I still believed my chance would come by being patient, working hard.

“For some reason, it didn’t work out and afterwards you have to find a solution and the deal happened between Dortmund and Chelsea. Also I need to thank Chelsea that I’m here and they gave me that opportunity.”

Maatsen said that “all options are open” at the end of this season, but first he has a dream to try to achieve by reaching the final of the Champions League, which will be played at Wembley, and ultimately lifting the trophy.

“Of course I am dreaming, but first we have to play against PSG,” said Maatsen. “We take it step by step. Of course, we all dream about that, but we have to make it happen. We can dream a lot, but if you don’t make it happen then the dream isn’t worth anything.”

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