Here we take a look at the club’s top 10 players of all time that played a remarkable part in helping Chelsea achieve greatness over the years.
Chelsa fans around the world have witnessed four distinct successful eras with the Roman Abramovich era being the most recent and prominent one. The club enjoyed significant success in the mid-50s, late 60s and early 70s and mid-to-late 90s. However, Chelsea have been unstoppable since the turn of the century winning five Premier Leagues, five FA cups, two Europa Leagues and the coveted Champions League.
It is important to note that just talent, number of appearances or personal feats are not enough to be called a ‘great’. This list is based on overall contributions made by a player, the significance of those contributions and their popularity within fans. There are others out of the top 10 who have been phenomenal for the club and deserve a mention: Marcel Desailly, Kerry Dixon, Bobby Tambling, Claude Makelele, Ashley Cole, Jimmy Greaves, Ray Wilkins, Jimmy Floyd Hassekbaink and Cesar Azpilicueta.
10. Dennis Wise
At 5’6”, he was not a stereotypical English midfielder but was the fiercest of the 22 players whenever he stepped onto the pitch. He was a snappy player and a goal-scoring midfielder with an impressive record of 76 goals from 445 appearances.
Wise was known for notoriety and his character divided opinion but he is remembered for his leadership. He is also the club’s second most successful captain after John Terry with two FA cups, a Football League cup, a UEFA cup winners’ cup and a UEFA Super cup under his belt.
9. Eden Hazard
During his time at Chelsea, there was a popular banner at Shed End that described Stamford Bridge as the “Garden of Eden”. Fast forward to 2021, those exact words truly justifies his seven-year stay at the Bridge.
The Belgian’s effortless dribbling was second to none in the league as he has glided past almost every defender to become a fan favourite. His return of 110 goals and 92 assists across 352 matches in all competitions is nothing short of outstanding. He has consistently scored screamers and bold solo attempts against the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Liverpool to the wild amazement of spectators.
8. Peter Bonetti
Nicnamed “The Cat”, Peter Bonetti was a goalkeeper way ahead of his time. He was not tall for a goalkeeper but at 5’11”, he was admired for his graceful style, handling ability and lightning-quick reflexes.
Bonetti was also instrumental in introducing and mainstreaming under and overarm throws as he specialised specifically in the one-arm throw that achieved the distance of a kick.
The English World Cup winner also holds the record for the second-highest appearances for Chelsea with 729 across two spells.
7. Peter Osgood
The only Chelsea player to have his statue erected outside Stamford Bridge was named by the fans “The Wizard of Os” and “The King of Stamford Bridge”.
Peter Osgood’s contributions through attack helped the club enjoy trophy-laden years in the late 60s and early 70s. Ossie’s instinctive and powerful goals in domestic and European finals are still fondly remembered. He is also one of the elites few to have scored in every round of the FA Cup.
6. Gianfranco Zola
The mercurial Italian is believed to be the best player ever by a large section of fans to grace Chelsea and the Premier League as he scored and created goals for fun making the game look childishly easy.
During his time, he managed to guide the club to two FA Cups, one League Cup, one European Cup winners’ cup, one FA charity shield and one UEFA Super Cup. His involvement in any game guaranteed entertainment and added an artistic touch that was cherished deeply by the fans.
Zola was also crucial in transforming the Premier League as a whole by initiating the influx of other European greats through his arrival.
5. Ron Harris
The tough Englishman was nicknamed “The Chopper” by Chelsea fans. Harris was widely known for his hard nature and grit. The man breathes loyalty and commitment to Chelsea in a career spanning 20 years with the London club.
Consequently, with 795 appearances in the pocket, he also holds the record for most appearances in a Blue shirt. His tough nature and grittiness were showcased perfectly in the 1970 FA Cup final, which is said to be the most physical game of that era.
4. Didier Drogba
The “King” of finals scored 9 goals in 10 cup finals, guiding Chelsea to 8 trophies in the process. Apart from having a knack for scoring in Europe and domestic cups, he ranks fourth in the club’s all-time goalscorers with 104 of them coming his way in the Premier League.
Winning the Premier League four times is enough to gain a legendary status at any club but the Ivorian went a step further by clinching Chelsea’s first-ever Champions League title through the final spot-kick of the shootout.
Drogba was a beast in the air and was strong generally with the ability to dominate defenders with strength and power.
3. Petr Cech
Petr Cech is not only Chelsea’s greatest ever goalkeeper, he is also the Premier League’s greatest goalkeeper with a record 202 clean sheets between the sticks.
Apart from Didier Drogba, the Czech international’s heroics in the 2012 Champions League final ensured the trophy heads to London for the first time. Four-time golden glove winner, a leader in the dressing room and a speaker of six languages, Cech is highly respected by all the fans especially after his comeback from a horrific head injury in 2006.
Donning his famous headgear for the rest of his career, he grew better with age becoming a true legend of the club.
2. Frank Lampard
Frank is Chelsea’s all-time highest goal-scorer with 211 goals across all competitions. It is not an easy task to achieve a feat of immense magnitude. “Super Frank” also claimed double-figures in goals scored for ten consecutive seasons in the Premier League, a record that puts many strikers to shame. Lampard was a modern midfielder.
Lampard possessed a mix of goal-scoring, box-to-box, passing and playmaking abilities. He single-handedly typified the meaning of late runs into the box with numerous iconic goals. Coming from a footballing family, Lampard is a true student of the game with high ethical values.
1. John Terry
“Captain, Leader, Legend”, the banner hangs high in the stands of Stamford Bridge, describing the England international’s time at Chelsea accurately.
Terry rose through the ranks of the club’s youth system to cement his place in the starting XI for the best part of two decades. “Mr Chelsea” through and through with over 700 appearances, Terry epitomises the journey of a modern academy product into a club legend along with being the club’s most successful captain, leading them to five Premier Leagues, five FA Cups, three League cups, one Champions League and one Europa League.
Terry was strong, brave and an incredible reader of the game. He made headlines for off-pitch issues but never shied away from putting his body on the line during a game and his performances spoke for themselves. Terry stood firm in the face of criticism and abuse by delivering silverware consistently to emerge as Chelsea’s greatest player ever.
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