Gray and Chilwell have formed a strong bond since they first crossed paths at international level for England youth, and that relationship flourished when Gray joined Leicester from Birmingham City in January 2016.
Both 22-year-olds say they owe a lot to their families and friends, explaining that their unwavering support provided the perfect foundation and motivation for them to realise their potential.
“My mum brought me up by herself and if it wasn’t for her taking me to football when I was a scholar, from the age of three until 16, I wouldn’t be here now,” said Gray.
“Nothing was given and my mum worked hard to support both of us. My mum took care of things and as long I was playing football, I was happy. As I got older, it was always about football. I have a supportive family. My mum doesn’t like driving on the motorway, so for away games, my uncle would drive.
“My uncle Marlon, who played for Wolves until about 20 years-old, has been my football guidance. He’s understood things when I haven’t understood them. He’s helped me quite a lot – he’s been like a father figure. My uncle Gary as well, he’s the same. When I don’t understand things, he’ll teach me and give me a better understanding of situations.
“My sister is my sister – she’s a bit mad! She’s six and she’s called Olivia and she’s a motivation for me. It’s just been me, my mum and her. I want to give back to them. They deserve it, my mum deserves it. I want to try and give my sister the best life I can give her. I use them as motivation.”
Familiar with Belvoir Drive’s surroundings, England international left-back Chilwell joined the Club at the age of 12 from Rushden & Diamonds. His rise is one that is well-documented, and of course celebrated, at the Club. It is one that is also borne out of support from family and friends.
“My mum and dad both supported me through that time,” said Chilwell. “My dad loves football and he supported me all the way. My mum’s dad played football as well, so I maybe got the genes from him. I’ve got my mum, my dad and then I’ve got my little sister. She’s 17 so when I go back to Milton Keynes, I never really see her – she’s always out doing whatever it is she’s doing!
“I’ve also got my four best mates who I came up through school with since I was five. I still see them at least twice a week or so, if they’re around, because obviously they’re at uni.”
Up until 11:59pm GMT on Tuesday 26 February, supporters who buy a copy of LCFCQ Issue 7 will be entered into a competition to win a 2018/19 adidas home shirt signed by Chilwell.
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