Peter Osgood. Bleedin’ obvious innit to start with the King of Stamford Bridge? If Facebook had existed when Ossie left for Southampton in March 1974 I would have set up a page for all those Chelsea fans seriously considering suicide.
Ossie was Chelsea. He was everyone’s favourite player at The Bridge. When he was sold it wasn’t like Chelsea had sold their best ever player. They had sold its soul.
Alan Hudson. Hudson was actually sold a few weeks before Ossie, which made the latter’s sale even more painful. The engine and creative force of the great seventies team left the club aged just 22. Like Ossie he came back to his spiritual home a few years later but was well past his sell by date by then.
Ray Wilkins. Captain at just 18 years, Ray burst into the side when it was on a seriously downhill slope. He famously persuaded his team mates to take a pay cut to help the club through its financial troubles. He led the team out of the second division with style and panache but when Chelsea were again relegated a couple of years later he was flogged to Manchester United for 800,000 quid to ease the mounting debts. He has stated many times since that he would have gladly stayed on but the club insisted on selling him because it needed the money and he was the most saleable asset at the time. Great bloke and now Ancelotti’s number two.
Pat Nevin. After the relegation scare of 1983, Ken Bates set about revamping the team and amongst the close season signings was an unknown puny little kid from Clyde – Patrick K.F. M. Nevin. None of us had ever heard about him but that was soon about to change. From his introduction a few games into season 1983/84 we knew we were on to something special. A home game against Newcastle crowned him Prince of Stamford Bridge, especially one dribble that took him past five Newcastle defenders. He scored 14 goals in that season, set up countless more for Kerry Dixon and David Speedie and won the Chelsea Player of the Year. The step up to the First Division was no problem for him but relegation in 1988 saw him moved on to Everton.
Kerry Dixon. It’s true that Kerry was in the twilight of his career when he moved on to Southampton, but being just 9 goals short of Bobby Tambling’s all time goalscoring tally I would have loved to see him stay on and break the record. He won the Golden Boot in 3 successive seasons in 3 different divisions – 1983 in the 3rd Division with Reading, 1984 in the 2nd Division and 1985 in his debut season in the 1st Division. In 1994 he played for Luton against Chelsea in an FA Cup semi final and the ovation he got from the Chelsea fans was probably the best ever for an ex-player.
Scott Parker. I viewed Scott’s arrival at Chelsea with some suspicion because it was not because beyond the realms of possibility that Claudio Ranieri would push Frank Lampard out onto the wing to accommodate Scottie. Thankfully that never happened and in his time at Chelsea Parker was very much a peripheral player. But looking at him now who wouldn’t have him in our team instead of Mikel.
Gianfranco Zola. The little genius gave his word to Cagliari that he would join them a couple of days before the Abramovich takeover. Being the gentleman he was he stuck to his word and took a massive pay cut to join the then Serie B team. No other player in the history of Chelsea Football Club has given us fans so much to remember him by. His cameo appearance in the final game of the 2003/04 was the stuff of legends putting three Liverpool defenders on their arse near the corner flag. And what a legend he was, is and forever will be.
Eidur Gudjohnsen. When Eidur left for Barcelona it was supposed to be because of the lack of playing time he was getting at Chelsea. As it turned out bench warming seemed to be his main activity at the Nou Camp before he moved to Monaco in the last close season. Silky touch, an eye for goal and a vision that often made me think he had eyes on all four sides of his head, Eidur added a touch of class to the team whenever he played. His partnership with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in 2001/02, in which he scored 23 goals and JFH 27, kept out Gianfranco Zola for long stretches of the season.
William Gallas. When we sold Gallas to the Arse we sold them three defenders in one – a centre half, a right back and a left back. In our second championship winning season Willie was voted into the Premiership Team of the Season at left back, which says everything about his versatility. His goal against Spurs will live on in our collective memory for many years to come. He left under a cloud but to me it looked like one of Peter Kenyon’s major blunders. While all and sundry were getting new contracts Willie was ignored, which understandably gave him the hump. As for the own goal threats, that’s the Chelsea PR machine at its worst.
Arjen Robben. I never watch Bayern on the telly because I still find it too painful to see Robbie in anything other than a blue shirt. Yes he gets injured if a fly settles on his foot, yes sometimes he looked like he wasn’t up for it, but in his three years at The Bridge there wasn’t a more beautiful sight in the Premiership. I still firmly believe that if it wasn’t for that bastard Mokoena we would have won the Champions League in Jose’s first season in charge.
Others who nearly made it into this list were Charlie Cooke, Colin Pates, David Speedie, Gordon Durie, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Damien Duff, Hernan Crespo, Carlo Cudicini and Wayne Bridge.
Happy New Year to all of you.