Chelsea have a storied history as one of England’s most successful football clubs and have a long list of legends to suit. The Stamford Bridge natives have reached the top at home and in Europe. While some of the game’s greatest players have also donned their famed Blue shirts.
Legends have regularly added to Chelsea’s trophy history to live long in the hearts of their dedicated fanbase. So, The Chelsea Chronicle has taken a look at the top 10 legends of this giant club from their record goalscorer, Frank Lampard, to their fabled captain, John Terry…
|Managers:||Claudio Ranieri (2001-04), Jose Mourinho (2004-07), Avram Grant (2007-08), Luiz Felipe Scolari (2008-09), Guus Hiddink (Interim, 2009), Carlo Ancelotti (2009-11), Andre Villas-Boas (2011-12), Roberto Di Matteo (2012), Rafa Benitez (Interim, 2012-13), Jose Mourinho (2013-14)|
|Years at Chelsea:||2001-2014|
Lampard cemented himself as a Chelsea legend during 13 years at Stamford Bridge as one of the greatest midfielders in Premier League history. He has also returned to west London twice to serve as Chelsea’s manager. But it was on the field where Lampard built his legacy.
Claudio Ranieri signed the West Ham United product from the Irons in June 2001 for £11m to replace Gus Poyet. The next 13 seasons would see Lampard write his name on the pages of Chelsea’s history books. He ultimately left in 2014 as their record goalscorer with 211 goals.
Lampard also won each major trophy available with Chelsea with three Premier League titles, a Champions League title, four FA Cups, two EFL Cups and a Europa League title. While his role in their 2004/05 top-flight title also led to the PFA and Fans’ Player of the Year awards.
He even had the honour of lifting Chelsea’s first Champions League title and was crucial to their route to Munich. Lampard was also the perfect professional, always working behind the scenes to improve his game wherever the complete midfield icon saw any scope to develop.
|Managers:||Gianluca Vialli (1998-2000), Claudio Ranieri (2000-04), Jose Mourinho (2004-07), Avram Grant (2007-08), Luiz Felipe Scolari (2008-09), Guus Hiddink (Interim, 2009), Carlo Ancelotti (2009-11), Andre Villas-Boas (2011-12), Roberto Di Matteo (2012), Rafa Benitez (Interim, 2012-13), Jose Mourinho (2013-15), Guus Hiddink (Interim, 2015-16), Antonio Conte (2016-17)|
|Years at Chelsea:||1998-2017|
Terry is not only a legend of Chelsea but is also the Blues’ most successful player following a trophy-laden 19 seasons at Stamford Bridge. Their former club captain won 15 major titles in west London. He even touched his first piece of silverware in 2000 and lifted his last in 2017.
The defender’s 19 years as a first-team player further saw Terry amass 717 appearances in all competitions for Chelsea. He was always one of the best defenders of a generation and one of England’s greatest-ever centre-halves. Terry even first took their captaincy in 2001.
Ranieri gave Terry his breakthrough despite boasting the likes of Marcel Desailly and Frank Leboeuf. He had been with the Blues since the age of 14 and went on to become a key part of Chelsea becoming a heavyweight force with five top-flight titles and five FA Cup trophies.
Terry would take the captain’s armband in more than 500 games after becoming the skipper permanently during the 2004/05 term. His leadership and tactical awareness, along with his immense natural talent, made Terry essential to Chelsea’s foundations under many coaches.
|Managers:||Ruud Gullit (1996-98), Gianluca Vialli (1998-2000), Claudio Ranieri 2000-03)|
|Years at Chelsea:||1996-2003|
Not only is Gianfranco Zola an inarguable Chelsea legend, the Blues’ fanbase even voted the Italian as their greatest-ever player in 2003. He earned a staggering 60% of the votes when Chelsea polled their supporters having captivated Stamford Bridge for the prior seven years.
Zola moved to west London in 1996 and would win four trophies by the time he left. He also left having scored 80 – often spectacular – goals, including the winner in the 1998 European Cup Winners’ Cup Final. The maestro hit home within seconds of coming on as a substitute.
Defenders would chase shadows trying to stop Zola after he set off on his trademark mazey runs. His intelligence regularly proved too much for clubs to handle and Zola even left Peter Schmeichel motionless with another of his stunning strikes to inspire Chelsea’s resurgence.
But as well as being an incredible player, Zola was also true to his word when he eventually left Chelsea. The Italian had reached an agreement to move to his hometown side, Cagliari, one day before Roman Abramovich became Chelsea’s owner in 2003 and stuck to his word.
|Managers:||Jose Mourinho (2006-07), Avram Grant (2007-08), Luiz Felipe Scolari (2008-09), Guus Hiddink (Interim, 2009), Carlo Ancelotti (2009-11), Andre Villas-Boas (2011-12), Roberto Di Matteo (2012), Rafa Benitez (Interim, 2012-13), Jose Mourinho (2013-14)|
|Years at Chelsea:||2006-2014|
Chelsea narrowly beat the transfer deadline in August 2006 to sign a future club legend for £5m and William Gallas from Arsenal in Ashley Cole. The England international was already one of the best left-backs in the game and would be the best in the world for several years.
Cole had won two Premier League titles with the Gunners and won his third top-flight title with Chelsea in 2009/10. The defender’s spell in west London further featured four FA Cup titles and one EFL Cup trophy plus Champions League and Europa League winners’ medals.
He would eventually leave Stamford Bridge in 2014 having amassed 338 appearances with the Blues. While Cole’s efforts in the FA Cup saw the defender become the most successful player in the competition’s history. No player has ever matched his seven trophies to date.
What set Cole apart from the left-backs of his generation was his infinite reliability. He was also the ultimate big-game player as coaches could rely on Cole to deliver when it counted. Few nights showed it more than the 2012 Champions League semi-finals against Barcelona.
|Managers:||Jose Mourinho (2004-07), Avram Grant (2007-08), Luiz Felipe Scolari (2008-09), Guus Hiddink (Interim, 2009), Carlo Ancelotti (2009-11), Andre Villas-Boas (2011-12), Roberto Di Matteo (2012), Jose Mourinho (2014-15)|
|Years at Chelsea:||2004-12, 2014-15|
Chelsea broke their transfer record in 2004 to see new boss Jose Mourinho claim the £24m signing of Didier Drogba. It also made the forward the most expensive striker in the English game at the time. But very few fans could now argue the price for his move from Marseille.
Drogba is among Chelsea’s all-time record goalscorers with the Blues legend striking 164 in 381 outings across his two spells. Mourinho later brought the Ivory Coast icon back to west London for one more season in 2014. Drogba offered seven of his goals in his second spell.
Chelsea owe a great deal to Drogba for many of the titles that now feature in their trophy cabinet, as well. The striker was an ultimate big-game player and scored nine goals in nine cup finals. His haul included a 24-yard free-kick to pip Portsmouth in the 2010 FA Cup final.
While Drogba was essential to the biggest night in Chelsea’s history having scored the 88th-minute equaliser against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final in 2012. The striker, who won the Man of the Match award, met Juan Mata’s corner and powered a header home.
|Managers:||Roberto Di Matteo (2012), Rafa Benitez (Interim, 2012-13), Jose Mourinho (2013-15), Guus Hiddink (Interim, 2015-16), Antonio Conte (2016-18), Maurizio Sarri (2018-19)|
|Years at Chelsea:||2012-2019|
Among the legends to have played for Chelsea throughout the years, Eden Hazard is one of the – if not the – most skilful players to have donned their blue jersey. The Belgian was the Blues’ talisman for seven years and won their Player of the Year award a record four times.
Hazard arrived in west London as the most coveted young player in the world in 2012 from his boyhood team. Chelsea paid LOSC Lille £32m on the back of them lifting the Champions League. Yet he would leave for Real Madrid in 2019 for £89m, rising to in excess of £150m.
Chelsea lifted two Premier League titles and two Europa League titles during Hazard’s spell with the Blues, as well. While his dazzling displays earned wider acclaim as one of the best players in Europe. The winger was essential to the way the Stamford Bridge natives played.
His pace and trickery would bamboozle defenders, who often resorted to trying to foul the forward to stop his runs. But despite the tough treatment that Hazard received, he seldom missed matches for Chelsea. He also often played the game with a genial smile on his face.
|Managers:||Tommy Docherty (1964-67), Dave Sexton (1967-74), Danny Blanchflower (1978-1979)|
|Years at Chelsea:||1964-1974, 1978-1979|
Such is Peter Osgood’s legend at Chelsea, the Blues built a statue of the club’s iconic striker outside the West Stand at Stamford Bridge. The west London team recognised the Windsor-born forward’s role in their glorious spells over the 1960s and 1970s with the statue in 2010.
Osgood started his career in Chelsea’s academy but stole the headlines on his senior debut. Tommy Docherty brought the forward through aged 17 in 1964 and he scored twice against Workington in a League Cup tie. It was to be the start of great things to come for the Blues.
A broken leg interrupted Osgood’s first two seasons at the Bridge but he returned to fitness as an even better player. The striker added a real toughness to his natural talent to become a mainstay for a decade. He was instinctive with either foot to overcome losing a yard of pace.
Chelsea’s decline in the mid-1970s brought about the end of Osgood’s first stint at the club. And while he returned for what would be the last season of his career in 1978/79, the striker did not prevent their relegation. But the history books will forever remember his 150 goals.
|Managers:||Tommy Docherty (1962-67), Dave Sexton (1967-74), Ron Suart (Interim, 1974-75), Eddie McCreadie (1975-77), Ken Shellito (1977-78), Danny Blanchflower (1978-79) Geoff Hurst (1979-80)|
|Years at Chelsea:||1962-1980|
Ron Harris holds his own among the top 10 Chelsea legends of all time having enjoyed a club record 795 appearances. His 18 years at Stamford Bridge cemented the defender’s legacy at the Blues after breaking through from their academy fold in 1962 as an FA Youth Cup winner.
Docherty ushered Harris into Chelsea’s first-team squad aged 17 and they would seal their promotion the following year. But Harris’ legend was still to unfold as he would be Chelsea’s first FA Cup-winning captain in 1969/70. He also lifted their first European title the next year.
Chelsea won the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1970/71 but their successes declined in the following years. Yet while others disembarked the Blues’ ship, Harris stayed put – even after Ray Wilkins assumed the captaincy. It was not until 1980 that Harris eventually left the club.
Brentford broke Harris’ long-time association with Chelsea with the chance to become their player-manager. He left Stamford Bridge as an incontestable Chelsea legend beyond his 795 record appearances. His uncompromising style warmly earned him the nickname ‘Chopper’.
|Managers:||Jose Mourinho (2004-07), Avram Grant (2007-08), Luiz Felipe Scolari (2008-09), Guus Hiddink (Interim, 2009), Carlo Ancelotti (2009-11), Andre Villas-Boas (2011-12), Roberto Di Matteo (2012), Rafa Benitez (Interim, 2012-13), Jose Mourinho (2013-15)|
|Years at Chelsea:||2004-2015|
Chelsea finally reached an agreement with Stade Rennais to sign Petr Cech in 2004 for £7m. The Czech Republic goalkeeper had long been a target of the Blues and the next 11 seasons saw him become a Chelsea legend. Arsenal ended his career at the Bridge for £10m in 2015.
Cech changed west for north London after losing his first choice status between the posts to Thibaut Courtois. But the Czech legend would return after retiring in 2019 as a technical and performance advisor. He even re-joined Chelsea’s side in 2020 as an emergency goalkeeper.
Chelsea won every title possible over Cech’s storied 11 years at the Bridge with four Premier League titles featuring prominently. He also won the Champions League and Europa League, plus four FA Cups and three EFL Cup titles. Cech also had 202 Premier League clean sheets.
The Blues took a chance when signing Cech as he had only played 78 first-team games with Rennes. Yet Chelsea’s swoop proved to be a masterstroke as the shot-stopper would prove to be among the best around. Cech even also came back to thrive after fracturing his skull.
|Managers:||Ted Drake (1957-61)|
|Years at Chelsea:||1957-1961|
Jimmy Greaves joined Chelsea as a junior in 1956. But he only had to wait until the opening day of the 1957/58 season to make his first-team debut. Ted Drake would quickly savour his call, too, as Greaves marked his bow by scoring in a 1-1 draw at Tottenham Hotspur aged 17.
Drake had little choice but to give Greaves a chance in Chelsea’s first-team having scored an astounding 114 goals at the junior level. His potential would not fade, either, as the forward went on to score a remarkable 132 goals in 169 outings. His hit rate is unlikely to be beaten.
Greaves scored 22 goals in his debut campaign before netting 37, 30 and 43 in the seasons to follow. His incredible record also featured 13 hat-tricks, including scoring five goals in one game three times. Greaves even scored four goals in one game on a further three occasions.
Chelsea failing to win a trophy despite Greaves’ insane output saw the Blues cash in on him in 1961. Yet his move to AC Milan would not be a success and the striker sought to return to Stamford Bridge. But Chelsea refused to enter a bidding war and he signed with Tottenham.