Remember back in 2003 when loads of Chelsea fans suddenly appeared out of nowhere as soon as Roman Abramovich announced he was going to open his chequebook?
Weird that, wasn’t it?
For the fans that have followed The Blues since before Didier Drogba, Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas, Michael Essien and other such superstars arrived for absurd amounts of money, here are some nostalgic gems just for you…
1 Roberto Di Matteo’s FA Cup Final screamer is still the best thing ever
Plastic Chelsea fans know Bobby Di Matteo as their Champions League winning interim manager. But original fans know him as the cultured midfielder who scored in the blink of an eye in the 1997 FA Cup Final against Middlesbrough. After just 42 seconds, the dazzling Italian thundered one home from 30 yards. Cracking stuff.
2 Gianluca Vialli not only gave the team talks, he scored the goals as well
Back in 1998 Chelsea’s bald-headed Italian took over from Ruud Gullit as manager while still banging them in every now and then. It was a wonderful time to be alive.
3 Marcel Desailly and Frank Leboeuf were a pair of towering giants at the back
You don’t get centre-back partnerships like these two anymore. John Terry recently praised the two Frenchman as being influential in his development. Fake Chelski fans only know Frank Leboeuf as the Swiss doctor in ‘The Theory of Everything’.
4 This little and large combination was everything you could ever want from a pair of attackers
What Gianfranco Zola lacked in height he made up for in skill. And what Tore Andre Flo lacked in skill he made up for in height. The diminutive Italian and the imposing Norwegian struck up a delightful partnership in the late 1990s.
5 Eidur Gudjohnsen defied physics with an overhead kick that should have ended football
Stamford Bridge, 28 January 2003. Leeds are in town and the noisy Yorkshire folk are causing all the noise having gone 1-0 up. Then Eidur Gudjohnsen pulls off a move that left onlookers doubting the existence of gravity. The Icelander’s spectacular acrobatics inspired Chelsea’s comeback and cemented his place in Premier League mythology. Plus, his presentation celebration was class.
6 Dan Petrescu — that is all
The Romanian right-back made it fashionable for full-backs to get their name on the scoresheet every once and a while. A cult hero at Stamford Bridge, his Chelsea career ended prematurely after a spat with Gianluca Vialli. Shame.
7 Vinnie Jones and Dennis Wise is still the hardest midfield duo in history
Going up against Chelsea in the 1991/92 season meant having your legs hacked to pieces by Dennis Wise and Vinnie Jones. Only 5 ft 6 inches tall, Wise possessed a wicked Napoleon complex. Over a decade of service worth 445 appearances, little Dennis is a certified club legend.
8 This giant of a man was reliable between the sticks
Before Petr Cech there was Ed de Goey. The Dutchman had the wingspan of a Pterodactyl and a hairline befitting a clumsy television detective. He was a bloody decent keeper though.
9 Every Englishman in the country hoped we could steal Carlo Cudicini
Yes we know Gianluigi Buffon is magnificent but it’s criminal Cudicini never played for Italy. After quickly establishing himself as the best shot-stopper in the league, England tried to poach Cudicini through the old citizenship loophole but were ultimately unsuccessful in their attempt. Rats.
10 Jody Morris was the bad boy everyone loved to hate
Drunken fisticuffs, drink-driving, abusing American tourists mere hours after the 9/11 attacks… Jody Morris certainly wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Xavi, the actual real life Barcelona and Spain legend one, once named Morris as the toughest opponent he ever faced. Seriously, he did.
11 Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was good for a goal any time, any place
Chelsea’s top scorer three seasons out of four in the early 2000s and the first man in The Blues’ Premier League history to break the 20 goal mark. His partnership with the aforementioned Gudjohnsen brought Stamford Bridge to its feet on many occasions. You know, back when it was full of actual South-West Londoners.
12 The Tinkerman tinkered his way into your heart
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away Claudio Ranieri was the man in charge at Stamford Bridge. He arrived not speaking a word of English and rotated the squad with carefree abandon. He signed Frank Lampard and was instrumental in John Terry’s introduction into the first team. Wonder what The Tinkerman is up to these days…
13 Gustavo Poyet was a joy to behold
Before Frank Lampard came along and redefined goalscoring expectations for centre-midfielders, Gus Poyet did the job for Chelsea. And a damn fine job he did too. His penchant for volleys endeared to fans of every club; one in particular against Sunderland in 1999 sticks out as being flamboyant and devastating in equal measure.
14 There should be a statue of Jesper Gronkjaer outside Stamford Bridge
Bear with us on this one. The legend goes that Danish winger’s goal against Liverpool on the last day of the 2003/04 season was the catalyst for the Abramovich takeover. Gronkjaer’s strike meant Chelsea finished fourth and qualified for the Champions League. Without European competition, the Russian billionaire wouldn’t have invested in Chelsea.
Now somebody make a start on that statue…