FOX Sports Asia rolls back the years and selects the ten most iconic players ever to put on a Blues shirt.
As the reigning EPL champions, most, if not all, football fans will know the current crop of Chelsea players like the back of their hand.
But, as it is with history, we tend to forget the club greats that have paved the way for them.
It is hard to imagine the Blues as a mid-table club, struggling against the footballing might of a rampant Manchester United in the ‘90s and early ‘00s, but that was the reality before the Abramovich era.
While new boy Alvaro Morata has the luxury of world-class service (and teammates), some of his predecessors weren’t so lucky.
So having earned their footballing stripes, we salute these ten Chelsea players who electrified the Stamford Bridge faithful through grit and sheer talent.
Long before Roman “Moneyman” Abramovich and Jose “The Special One” Mourinho came rolling into town, defender John Terry was already here.
The former Chelsea, and England, captain broke into Chelsea’s first team in the 2000-01 season and helped his club to five league titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, one Europa League and Champions League title.
After 21 years with the Blues, the two-time Chelsea Player of the Year has over 500 appearances and is the first player to captain a team to the EPL title on five occasions!
A long-term teammate of Terry, Frank Lampard is another legend that has earned his spot in the Blues’ Hall of Fame.
Regarded as one of the greatest midfielder of his generation, the Chelsea all-time top goal scorer managed 211 goals since moving from West Ham for £11 million back in 2001. He is also second on the EPL’s all-time assist table.
During his 13-year stay, the three-time Chelsea Player of the Year was instrumental in helping the club to three EPL crowns, four FA Cups, one Europa League and Champions League title.
Voted as Chelsea’s greatest player ever, Gianfranco Zola is one of the greatest EPL imports alongside Drogba and Arsenal’s Dennis Bergkamp.
The diminutive Italian forward and attacking midfielder scored 80 goals in 312 appearances in a Blues shirt after making a £4.5 million move from Parma in 1996.
Zola’s Chelsea trophy haul includes a UEFA Cup (now Europa League), UEFA Super Cup, two FA Cups, the League Cup and a Community Shield – an impressive achievement considering that this was before the Abramovich era.
As one of the key players for Mourinho reign, Ricardo Carvalho arrived in London after a stellar Euro 2004 showing for £20 million.
The Portuguese defender was instrumental in helping Chelsea to their first league title in 50 years in his maiden season. He also won the League Cup as well.
Carvalho, famed for his precise slide tackles, was able to add another two league titles and Community Shields and League Cup before leaving for Real Madrid in 2010.
At a time when Chelsea was known for signing striking flops (Adrian Mutu, Mateja Kezman and Hernan Crespo are but a few notable names), Didier Drogba proved contrary to the rule.
The Ivorian forward’s arrival in 2004, and his subsequent 157 goals, kick started a period of league dominance for the Blues.
Drogba was so beloved by the club that he returned for a second spell in 2014 – after his 2012 departure to Shanghai Shenhua.
In total, the all-time EPL foreign top scorer won four league titles and FA Cups, three League Cups, two Community Shields and a Champions League medal.
Credited with redefining the defensive midfield role in English football, Claude Makelele was the Kante before Kante and the unsung hero of the Blues’ historic EPL title win in 2004-05.
The combative French national player, known for his tenacity and his awareness, was so iconic that he made the position his own – so much so that fans and pundits now dub his position as the “Makelele Role”.
During his five years at the club, Makelele provided the stability and platform to snag two EPL and League Cup titles, one FA Cup and Community Shield before moving on with PSG in 2008.
An explosive winger with madcap dribbling skills; Arjen Robben arrived in London (complete with a head full of hair) along with his PSV teammate and striker Mateja Kezman in 2004 to much excitement – they were nicknamed “Batman and Robben” for their goal scoring exploits.
While Kezman ultimately faded away at the Bridge, the speedy Dutch winger seized the opportunity to take centre stage in Mourinho’s squad.
Despite being plagued with injuries, Robben still managed 19 goals in his three-year London stay. He left for Real Madrid in 2007, but not before winning two league titles and League Cup and one FA Cup and Community Shield.
A beast of a man; Diego Costa should be a name that is familiar with most Chelsea fans. He joined the Blues from Atletico Madrid in 2014 for £32 million.
The temperamental Spanish forward managed 59 goals in his three years in London, but was always dogged by controversy – he was charged on no less than three occasions by the FA.
It is a pity then that the two-time league champion and League Cup winner fell out with current manager Antonio Conte this season and was forced to go on strike to secure his return to Atletico.
After a stint with Sheffield Wednesday, Dan Petrescu arrived in London in 1995 and became a regular first team squad member for the next five years.
The Romania full-back and winger was not always the flashiest of players, but was key to Chelsea’s ’97 FA Cup victory as well as the ’98 League Cup , UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup wins.
After falling out with then-manager Gianluca Vialli, Petrescu was unceremoniously left out of their 2000 FA Cup final and left for Bradford City soon after.
Arriving in the new millennium, Eidur Gudjohnsen came to Chelsea after helping Bolton Wanderers to the Division One play-offs and the FA Cup and League Cup semi-finals.
The Icelandic forward was largely used as a sub in his first season, but formed a deadly strike partnership with Jimmy Hasselbaink that yield 52 goals in his sophomore season.
Gudjohnsen chalked up 78 goals for the Blues and won two domestic titles and Community Shields and a League Cup before Barcelona came calling in 2006.