Christian Pulisic claims former Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel left him ‘dumbfounded’ when he went back on a promise to play him in a key Champions League tie.
Pulisic was Chelsea’s star in the 2021 semi-final first leg draw at Real Madrid, a result that set up a memorable night at Stamford Bridge as the Blues booked their spot in the final.
However, Pulisic was then on the bench for the second leg with Kai Havertz coming into the Chelsea lineup, and he has accused Tuchel of misleading him in the run-up to the game.
“What happened before that game was hugely disappointing for me,” Pulisic wrote in his autobiography My Journey So Far. “l’d had a really good first leg performance and our following match was against Fulham in the league.
“Tuchel told me that he was resting me for the second leg and as a result I didn’t play a single minute in the Fulham game. Then on match day of the second semi, Tuchel tells me he’s changed his mind and he’s going with Kai.
“I honestly was dumbfounded and very disappointed. I thought that I’d earned a start and, most importantly, he had assured me previously I was going to start. So by the time he brought me on with about 25 minutes left, I was just so wound up.”
It appears that Pulisic and Tuchel always had something of a tumultuous relationship, with even the American’s goal in the first leg in Madrid being borne of tension between them.
On that occasion, though, Pulisic was able to ignore his manager – and did so with good effect.
“The untold story behind that goal is that when Rudiger has the ball, I can see he’s looking to play it long over the top and I started my run to get in behind the Madrid backline,” Pulisic explained. “But as I take off on the run, I hear Thomas Tuchel yelling from the sideline, ‘Christian, stay in the pocket, don’t make the run!’
“But I just had the feeling I’d find the space and get on the end of the pass, so I continued the run.”