We continue our countdown of the greatest players in Chelsea history with 5 Europeans and 2 current members of the Chelsea squad.
45. Dan Petrescu
The Romanian was an integral part of the Chelsea side in the 1990s that won an FA Cup, a League Cup and a Cup Winners’ Cup. Petrescu was the first overseas player to make a century of Chelsea appearances and in most of these he featured as a right-back. Glenn Hoddle brought him in from Sheffield Wednesday in 1995 and, having played in a Champions League final, he bought a player with plenty of experience. Petrescu was often a wing-back in Hoddle’s formation but resided to a right midfield role under Gianluca Vialli. His contributions did not go unnoticed and despite his red card in the Cup Winners’ Cup final, he’s fondly remembered by everyone at the club.
44. Gianluca Vialli
Speaking of Vialli, he makes number 44 on this list. Before becoming manager in 1998, Vialli spent the last 3 years of his playing career at Stamford Bridge. The Italian ended up scoring an impressive 21 league goals for the club, considering his age and status in the squad. Ruud Gullit often left Vialli out of his starting line-up but the striker was a favourite with the fans because of his prolific form in a Chelsea shirt. A hattrick against Tromso, a brace against Liverpool in the FA Cup and his final goal against Derby are memorable moments that Vialli will take from his spell in West London. Vialli took over from Gullit after the latter was dismissed, but still kept his playing duties. He became full-time Chelsea manager in 1999 and won 5 major honours before being sacked in 2001.
43. Thibaut Courtois
I’m sure the young goalkeeper will climb higher in this list in the coming years but for now, at the age of 25, he’s already one of the best keeper’s the club has had in its history. It’s easy to forget Courtois joined Chelsea way back in 2011 because it was 3 years, all on loan at Atletico Madrid, before he made his debut for the club. He returned to Chelsea on the back of winning the La Liga title in Spain and dislodged Petr Cech from his number 1 spot. The Belgian shot-stopper made an immediate impact in his first game at Stamford Bridge against Leicester where he made several superb saves to preserve a clean sheet. Three years, two league titles and one League Cup later and he is a stalwart in a successful Chelsea side and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
42. Eidur Gudjohnsen
The striker played for Barcelona, Monaco and PSV but he spent the best years of his career in West London. I doubt he had much fun at Tottenham. Gudjohnsen bagged over half a century of Chelsea goals during his 6-year stay after joining from Bolton in 2000. He formed a sensational partnership with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, including a season where they scored 52 goals between them in all competitions. One goal sets him apart from the other prolific Chelsea strikers who didn’t make this list and that came at Stamford Bridge in 2003. A bicycle kick against Leeds cementing him into Chelsea folklore and his medal collection is just as impressive. 2 Premier League titles, a League Cup and a Community Shield all feature as his goals glued together the pre-Abramovich and post-Abramovich era.
41. Gary Cahill
I understand that this may seem controversial to some but a centre-half who has been a crucial part in Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and Champions League triumphs should be a legend of the club. And that legend tag is suitable when it comes to current club-captain, Gary Cahill, who signed for the Blues from Bolton in January of 2011, just 4 months before starting a Champions League final. His heroic performance, while technically injured, on that night in Munich alongside David Luiz should never be forgotten. Cahill formed an impressive partnership with John Terry and that climaxed as Chelsea won the Premier League title in 2015. He won it again 2 years later in part of Antonio Conte’s back 3, scoring crucial goals along the way against the likes of Manchester United, Everton and Stoke.