FLASHBACK: First Chelsea team of the Millennium
Tall one’s Flo. Little one at the back – Wise.
With the “noughties”, or “noughts”, quickly fading, The Spoiler thought it about time that someone paid tribute to some of the football teams that first trotted out on to the pitch at the dawn of the new Millennium.
Today, it’s the turn of Chelsea. Here’s how they lined up to play Coventry at Highfield Road on 4th January 2000. The game ended 2-2, with a young man called Robbie Keane bagging one for Cov. Flo scored both of the Chelsea goals.
Goalkeeper, Ed de Goey
The man who preceded van der Sar as Holland’s number one, de Goey was once the Premier League’s most expensive goallie. He had a great time with Chelsea, right up until Cudicini started breathing down his neck, forcing him in the direction of Stoke in 2003. De Goey was very much from the same school of keeping as the great Neville Southall – in that they both resembled the men who trundle up and down busy high streets with those pavement sweeping machines.
Right Back, Albert Ferrer
After eight blissful years and over 200 appearances for Barcelona, Ferrer joined Chelsea in 1998 for £2.2 million. He was a speedy little chap, a Spanish international, and after a few years caught up in the tangled web of Vialli’s rotation policy, he finally hung up his boots in 2003.
Centre Back, Marcel Desailly
A legendary defender, Marcel enjoyed a very fruitful partnership with Frank LeBoeuf during his Chelsea days. Before that, he’d inspired both Marseille and AC Milan to European glory, and he can now be found doing the odd bit of punditry in a hilarious high-pitched voice. He also won 116 caps for France, which isn’t bad.
Centre Back, Emerson Thome
This match proved to be one of just twenty-one games that Thome managed for Chelsea during his nine months at the club. It wasn’t long before he was shipped off to Sunderland, and replaced by Winston Bogarde, who proved to be just awful.
Left Back, Celestine Babayaro
Babayaro enjoyed a marvelous scrap with Graeme Le Saux for the left back spot in the Chelsea side, where he dazzled crowds with his zip and athleticism, during the late 90s and early 2000s. Then, rather depressingly, a young man called Wayne Bridge showed up in 2003, and it all just fell apart. However, Babayaro has had the last laugh. In that Bridge is now really rubbish.
Right Midfield, Gus Poyet
In many ways, Poyet was the original Frank Lampard. Most notably because he was a midfielder who tended to sit near the top of the scoring charts come the end of each season. Unfortunately, by 2001, he was far too disgustingly old for Ranieri’s liking, so was shipped off to Spurs. Now lives by the sea in Brighton, probably.
Centre Midfield, Didier Deschamps
Really, the “Makelele Role” could equally be described as the “Deschamps Role”. Or, if you happen to be Eric Cantona, “The Water-Carrier Role”, which wasn’t much of a compliment from the Frenchman. Deschamps, fresh from captaining France to World Cup and Euro 2000 glory, only stuck around in London for a season. He was just so knackered by that stage. Now manages Marseille.
Centre Midfield, Dennis Wise
When he wasn’t giving London cabbies the willies, Dennis Wise was using his terrier-like aggression to make the Chelsea fans fall in love with him, which they did. He was voted the club’s best player in 2000. These days, the mere mention of his name can cause the people of Newcastle to suddenly become furious and rather more impossible to understand than usual.
Left Midfield, Roberto Di Matteo
Had he not buggered up his leg quite so badly, Di Matteo might have played beyond 2002, but even so, he’d already enjoyed six priceless years at Chelsea, having arrived in 1996 for £4.9 million – then a record signing for the club. Many will remember him for the stupidly quick goal he scored in the 1997 FA Cup final. Others might just remember his lovely hair.
Striker, Tore Andre Flo
Over a third of Flo’s Chelsea appearances came from the bench during his time at the club, but in the 1999/2000 season, he still managed to become the top scorer with 19 goals. He left at the end of the season, to embark on a club tour of Europe, and recently dazzled the people of Norway with his fancy footwork on Dancing with the Stars.
Striker, Gianfranco Zola
One of the greatest Chelsea players ever, and definitely one of the best foreign footballers to ever grace the Premier League, Zola spent seven grinning years at the club, before heading home to Sardinia in 2003. He’s now back in London, of course, managing West Ham.