We’re over halfway through our countdown of Chelsea’s 50 greatest players and the stature of these players at the club just gets bigger and bigger. The five next in the list will be familiar to Chelsea fans young and old with all of them having had some involvent at Stamford Bridge in the last decade. Whether that be on the pitch, in the dugout or up in the commentary box for the club’s official TV channel, they’ve all been a key part at the football club in recent years.
25. Ricardo Carvalho
Brought to West London by his former boss at Porto in Jose Mourinho in 2004 and went onto become a cult hero among the fans. His partnership with John Terry at the centre of defence has been touted as one of the best during the Premier League era. The Portuguese defender won 3 Premier League titles in a 6-year Chelsea career and played a key part in each of them. The Blues were on the verge of their second title in 2 years when they faced Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. The home side ran out 3-0 winners and Carvalho etched himself into Chelsea history with the third goal of the afternoon as he finished a move he had started on the edge of his own area. The win secured the title and Carvalho was hailed a hero and, at £20m, he also warrants the tag of absolute bargain.
24. Carlo Cudicini
The Italian goalkeeper joined just before the turn of the century and ended up spending a decade at the club, winning almost everything there is to win. He dislodged Ed de Goey as Chelsea’s first-choice keeper after a couple of years on the bench and was one of the most consistent players in a side that was striving for success just before Roman Abramovich arrived. Had it not been for injury, he probably would’ve played a part in Chelsea’s Premier League triumphs of the mid-2000s but it was a young Petr Cech who stood between the sticks for Chelsea. He has 2 FA Cup winner’s medals but the one final he did play, he lost. A consolation that year came in the form of the Chelsea Player of the Year award voted for by the fans. Petr Cech replaced him at Chelsea’s number one but the Italian is still firmly in the roots of the club – he currently sits on Antonio Conte’s backroom staff.
23. Juan Mata
His transfer to Manchester United must remain one of Chelsea’s biggest regrets because of his sensational form while playing in blue for the 2 and a half years beforehand. In both his full seasons at the club Mata won the Player of the Year award which shows just how cherished he was in West London. The Spaniard scored on his debut in 2011 against Norwich and never looked back as he helped his team win the Champions League and Europa League in successive seasons. In fact, it was his corner in the dying moments in Munich that Didier Drogba headed in to equalise and the rest is history. He was also instrumental in the FA Cup triumph that year, setting up Ramires’s opener and also picking up the man of the match award in a 2-1 victory over Liverpool. His creativity and guile was suppressed after the return of Jose Mourinho and, after being frustrated at not being in Mourinho’s plans, Mata left for United in January much to the dismay of every Chelsea fan.
22. Michael Essien
From one of Mourinho’s least favoured players (while at Chelsea at least) to one of his most valued. The Ghanaian was a stalwart in Chelsea’s midfield in the most successful period in the club’s history. Signed from Lyon in 2005, Essien went on to play over 250 games in Chelsea blue and won 2 Premier League titles, a Champions League, 4 FA Cups and a League Cup. His most memorable moments came at Stamford Bridge and include that pile driver (with obscene technique) against Arsenal and that volley against Barcelona in 2009 which should’ve been enough for a spot in the Champions League final for a second successive year. Both those goals won him the club’s goal of the season award and he also picked up the Player of the Year award in 2007 for his tenacity and power in central midfield. He spent another season with Mourinho at Real Madrid before leaving Chelsea permanently in 2014 for AC Milan.
21. Pat Nevin
Now working with the Chelsea TV team, Nevin was once a very successful part of the Chelsea first team in the 1980s. The former Scotland international won 2 Player of the Year awards at the club as Chelsea went from the Second Division to challenging for the title in the First Division. His world-class performances form the wing earned him a spot in the starting 11 for the 5 years he spent at the club. Crucial goals against Liverpool and West Ham will rank highly in his fondest memories during his time at the club and ‘Wee Pat’ as he was known to the Chelsea fans, became one of the best players in England before leaving for Everton after Chelsea’s relegation in 1988. He was simply too good to go back down.