Andreas Christensen was a raw and timid teenager on unfamiliar territory when he first encountered David Luiz being David Luiz at the Chelsea training ground.
‘David makes it easy for everyone,’ said Christensen. ‘He’s a little bit like John Terry. On one of my first visits, David was here and I wanted to take a picture with him.
‘He did this weird face to the camera. He’s just the same now. He’s a big character. You feel his vibe and he wants to succeed.
Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen poses for Sportsmail photographer Graham Chadwick
Christensen tussles with Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette during the Carabao Cup semis
‘He’s made it a lot easier for me to come back from the loan spell and into the team.
‘He wants the best for the club and for everyone in it. You can feel that every day. That’s just the way he is.’
Little did Luiz know the young Dane would one day step impressively into his position at the heart of Chelsea’s defensive unit and oust him from the team.
It is as if he was being nurtured for the role from the moment they first met.
‘You don’t think about that stuff,’ said Christensen. ‘I go into every game trying to perform so he can’t get his place back and he tries to perform like he wants to play as well.
‘I don’t think anyone wants to be rested. We always want to play the games. Sometimes you feel exhausted but you want to play.’
David Luiz (centre) trains alongside his Chelsea team-mates at Cobham on Friday afternoon
Christensen sat down to discuss life at Chelsea and much more with Sportsmail’s Matt Barlow
Christensen’s passing accuracy is 94 per cent this season.
Only John Stones (96 per cent) has been more accurate in the league.
In conversation, the 21-year-old exudes a quiet matter-of-fact authority and cool mind which has defined his elevation into Antonio Conte’s team.
It is not, he admits, a trait he inherited from his father, Sten.
‘His temperament is quite strong,’ said Christensen. ‘He was goalkeeper, a little bit crazy and I’m probably more like my mum, more laid back.
‘He stopped when I was born and I never saw him play but I think he was pretty good.
‘When Peter Schmeichel went to Manchester United, Brondby bought my Dad instead. Big shoes to fill.
‘He always played in the best league in Denmark. So I guess he wasn’t bad and I grew up with him as a coach.
‘He started up a local club because we didn’t have a team. I played with boys who were one year older than me and I’ve grown up with that all the way to Under-17.
‘He definitely shouted more at me than the others. And when we got home he would actually tell me stuff he didn’t want to tell me in front of the other boys.
Christensen has become a key member of Antonio Conte’s Chelsea defence this season
‘So I grew up feeling… not exactly pressure but your dad is the coach and although he tried to make it fun he’s probably a big part of what I’ve achieved.’
These days, Sten is a goalkeeping coach at Brondby and serves as an advisor to a son who knows his own mind.
When his father suggested going out for dinner in London to celebrate a four-and-a-half year contract he signed earlier this month Andreas opted for a night in.
‘That was how my body felt,’ said Christensen. ‘I just couldn’t be bothered to go out. I wanted to stay at home, relax, feet up and see what’s on TV.
‘That was actually the programme, what we’ve been doing and that tells you something about the problem.
‘Some senior players find it difficult as well. In pre-season we get our bodies ready. It’s the mental side. It’s so tough to keep performing and be mentally ready.’
Christensen was playing up front when he was spotted by Aston Villa, the first of four English clubs to take him on trials.
He also visited Arsenal and Liverpool but settled on Chelsea.
The 21-year-old defender has settled into life in the Premier League with ease this season
Christensen plays a pass during training at Cobham as fellow defender Gary Cahill watches on
‘I was a quick striker when Aston Villa first saw me playing in Denmark,’ said Christensen. ‘I went there about five times and then I got a phone call from Chelsea.
‘I came here and got a bad ankle injury and they offered to help. I had surgery in Denmark and came here and did my treatment.
‘I could see what it was like to stay in digs with players I ended up being with: Jesse Starkey, Kevin Wright, Jacob Maddox and Miro Muheim. All boys in one house, it was a lot of fun.’
At 16, having decided to leave Brondby’s youth system and pursue his career aboard.
‘It is a big decision,’ said Christensen. ‘You never know what’s right and wrong but today it looks like the right decision.
‘Brondby have a lot to do with it but feel like I’m a product of Chelsea and I feel like I owe this club a lot.’
Since returning from a two-year loan at Borussia Monchengladbach last summer, Christensen has started 21 games in a critical position in the centre of Conte’s back-three.
He has performed with maturity, making the right decisions and very few mistakes and, for the first time since Terry at the turn of the century, Chelsea fans can sense one of their own emerging from the youth ranks who can make an impact at first-team level.
‘There is a lot of talk,’ said Christensen. ‘When I went away, you can feel people are talking about you being the one who can come back and break in.
Christensen had two years on loan at Borussia Monchengladbach before returning to Chelsea
‘There was some pressure to come back and deliver and you do feel that but I put pressure on myself. I always believed I could show my worth and hopefully break into the team.’
There were no promises made. ‘I don’t think they can,’ he added. ‘They do everything they can to help you and prepare you to come back.
‘You almost always get the pre-season here when you can show yourself and the feeling that the club wants you to succeed gives you more confidence that you can come back and show yourself.
‘I’ve never been afraid of it. I said if I wasn’t ready now, coming back after two years, I didn’t think I’d ever be ready.
‘It is more like a big challenge that can create more opportunities. If you get through here you’re fighting for title and that’s what I want to do. That’s why you choose a big club.’
Fifteen points adrift of Premier League leaders Manchester City, the title seems little more than a remote as Chelsea prepare to face Bournemouth on Wednesday.
They plan to chase City all the way and still have designs on the FA Cup and Champions League, not put off by a tie against Barcelona in the next round.
Days after Christensen joined the club, six years ago, they beat Barca in the semi-final of the same competition and went on to their greatest triumph in Munich.
‘We’re going to face some difficult opponents but we think we can win,’ said Christensen. ‘The mentality here is whatever you’re still in you can still win.’
CHRISTENSEN SUPPORTS CHELSEA’S ‘SAY NO TO ANTISEMITISM’ CAMPAIGN
Andreas Christensen is supporting Chelsea’s ‘Say No To Antisemitism’ campaign which launches on Wednesday night.
The initiative is backed by owner Roman Abramovich and will deliver wide-ranging education campaigns for staff, fans and Chelsea’s wider communities to help tackle antisemitism.
For further information please go to chelseafc.com
Andreas Christensen is supporting Chelsea’s ‘Say No To Antisemitism’ campaign