Over the last couple of weeks, having spent a bit of time researching Jesper Gronkjaer and Marcel Desailly I thought it apropos to take a more in-depth look at the team that qualified for the 2003/2004 Champions League. Arguably the most important team in our history.
No squad is complete without the substitutes so let’s start there.
Ed De Goey – When looking back at recent history we have been blessed with some great keepers. Petr Cech. Carlo Cudicini. Thibaut Courtois. All of them could stake claim to being genuinely world class at one point or another. Compared to the above, Ed De Goey can come across as someone completely away from their level. Not so. A veteran of 31 caps for Holland, at a time when Edwin Van Der Saar was one of the best goalkeepers in the world, he also set two club records for Chelsea with most appearances and most clean sheets. Both coming in our Cup winning campaign of 2000. Likely remembered for little more than his moustache he was a more than competent goalkeeper who helped us further our push onto the next level. De Goey can currently be found as a goalkeeping coach in Holland.
Jody Morris – I have written a fair bit about the tigerish Morris elsewhere on this site. Potentially one of our greatest ever homegrown players. He and John Terry could have been homegrown linchpins for the side. However, a combination of personal issues coupled with the emergence of Frank Lampard left Morris on the outside looking in. Unhappy with his lot, he left the club following the Liverpool game, making an ill-fated transfer to Leeds. Fortunately enough, he is now back at the club, masterminding our Youth team to Cup win after Cup win.
Mario Stanic – The man for whom the word “enigma” was created. He burst onto the scene after signing in the summer of 2000 with an absolute world class strike against West Ham in a 4-2 win. One of three key attacking signings that summer to help take us to that next level, Stanic arguably made the most impressive start. That was as good as it got, however. Injuries and a lack of form hampered the talented Croatian massively. We also played quite a narrow midfield at the time, in order to supplement the two-pronged Gudjohnsen-Hasselbaink strikeforce, and Stanic, a primarily wide attacking player often struggled to make his mark. Whilst nonetheless a gifted individual, his time in West London was not a success and he left as Mourinho came through the door. He has most recently been found criticising Antonio Conte for perceived criticism of the Chinese League. Which is a strange place to hang your hat.
Carlton Cole – Ranieri’s “Lion”, Cole was given as many chances as anyone to stake a claim in the 02/03 season, playing as many games as he ever would in a Chelsea shirt. However, whilst proving adept at holding the ball up, he proved less so at actually putting the ball in the back of the net, managing just the 3 goals that season. He was hilariously given a 6-year contract that summer but never managed another Premier League goal for the Blues as Crespo, Mutu and then Drogba joined to muddy the waters for Cole. “The best young player” Ranieri ever coached left for West Ham in 2006, somehow managing to stay there for 10 years. He now plies his trade in Indonesia, which seems to suit him down to the ground, now able to not score goals with even fewer people watching.
There is one other substitute from that game. One who I feel deserves an article all to himself….