With just 15 names to go, we’re getting to the business end of Chelsea’s Greatest Countdown and the forthcoming players are some of the greatest in the club’s history. In the next 5 players, we have a representative from each area of the pitch, right from goalkeeper to striker, and 4 of them happen to be English showing that Chelsea are fair from their negatively foreign reputation.
15. Ashley Cole
It was a turbulent transfer from Arsenal but after the Gunners’ loss to Barcelona in the 2006 Champions League final, a fresh start suited Ashley Cole. William Gallas went the other way as part of the deal but Cole brought stability and grace to that left-back spot and won everything there is to win. He scored a penalty in both Champions League final shoot-outs, finally being victorious in Munich in 2012. He was also crucial in that historic winning run as a goal line clearance away at Napoli kept Chelsea in the tie and the Blues went on to complete a classic comeback at Stamford Bridge in the return leg. Along with that European title came winners’ medals from the Premier League, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Europa League. The Englishman won the Chelsea Player of the Year on two occasions and also claimed the Goal of the Year award in the 2009/10 league winning season, beating off over 100 others scored by the team that year.
14. Claude Makelele
It’s not often that you have a position named after you on a football pitch but Claude Makelele comes into that category. He is known as one of the greatest defensive midfielders in history and reinvented the role under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, winning two Premier League titles in the process. Makelele arrived from Real Madrid in 2003 as part of the Abramovich revolution and went on to make over 200 appearances in Chelsea blue over the course of 5 seasons but scoring just 2 goals for the club. Makelele didn’t need to score goals to be a Chelsea legend, his positional sense, discipline and work rate alone make him one of the Stamford Bridge greats.
13. Peter Bonetti
Bonetti was Chelsea’s number one for around two decades, making 729 club appearances (placing him 2nd in the all-time appearance table for Chelsea) and is considered as Chelsea’s best goalkeeper alongside Petr Cech. The Englishman spent 16 seasons at the club at the beginning of his career before returning for 3 more after a short spell playing in the United States. Because he played in the Chelsea side of the 1960s and 70s, he didn’t always play top flight football but this didn’t make him any less of a legend looking back on it. Bonetti was instrumental in the 1965 League Cup triumph over Leicester, putting in an inspired second-leg performance to see the cup brought back to Stamford Bridge. Bonetti was also largely responsible for FA Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup successes with stunning performances in the final of both competitions, while suffering from injury it has to be said. He will always be a benchmark for Chelsea’s goalkeepers, no matter how long it’s been since he graced the Stamford Bridge pitch.
12. Jimmy Greaves
Greaves came through the youth setup at Chelsea and became a hero with the fans after 4 successful seasons leading the line. He racked up 132 goals in 169 and boasts one of the best goal to game ratios in English football history. During the 1958/59 season, Greaves was the First Division’s top scorer, despite Chelsea actually finishing in 14th, a season which included a game against Wolves, who were champions at the time, in which Greaves bagged 5 out of the 6 goals scored. When Greaves hit his 100th league goal, he became the youngest ever player to reach the landmark – he hadn’t even reached his 21st birthday by the time he scored a hat-trick against Manchester City in 1960. Because of the team’s mediocre performances, Greaves left for AC Milan and went on to have a glittering career at Spurs.
11. Dennis Wise
The English midfielder played almost 500 times for the West London side and was one of the most consistent players that wore the royal blue. He joined Chelsea in 1990 for £1.6m, a club record at the time, and after 7 impressive years, he became Chelsea captain and led the team to their first major honour in decades in the 1997 FA Cup. League Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup triumphs followed and Wise became one of the most successful captains ever. He was a combative midfielder who regularly took penalties for the team, which helped form his goal tally of 76. After the turn of the century and another FA Cup win, Claudio Ranieri was appointed manager and younger players were preferred to the experienced Wise and so he left for Leicester in 2001. He ended up with two FA Cup, one League Cup and one Cup Winners’ Cup winners’ medals, while also picking up two Player of the Year awards showing his sheer quality on the pitch was recognised by the right people.