Almost every day, one hears of legends of football clubs and I understand the sentimentality. But does that sentimentality sometime genuinely cloud our understanding of the legendary status?
Even at my beloved Chelsea many a memory brings legendary meaning but the player does not or has achieved necessary legendary status.
Please bear with me as I try to elucidate.
I’ve watched in awe at some of our players over the years. Who can forget the 1970 FA Cup Final against Leeds when some of my favourite players participated?
Facing one of the meanest and skilful teams in the land, some of our players performed heroics to not only compete but also to eventually overcome the “mighty Leeds”. We had my favourite player Charlie Cooke with Osgood, Hutchinson, Houseman, Harris, Webb, Bonetti, McCreadie, Hudson just for starters. Cooke and Houseman could cross a ball from either side of the pitch and land it on a sixpence (that’s old money).
We were wonderful to watch.
But were any of them legends. Certainly, they were special players from a special era. Most would have lumps kicked out of them on a regular basis but usually played the following week. Who stands out?
Only one of them and he has been immortalised with a statue outside the stadium. Osgood is a Chelsea Legend because come what may, his allegiance to Chelsea never swayed. The fans’ support for Ossie never wavered. Ossie’s legend will remain with us for ever.
Since then of course we have had so many gifted players and so much success on the field that we could compile a book of Chelsea Legends. We’ve had Torres and Ramires scoring against Barcelona on the way to our first Champions League victory. I say the first because we shall return to win again sooner rather than later. Once you’ve got the taste for these things it’s difficult to say no.
We had some many heroic moments to achieve that victory. It took years to get there and so many players helped over the years to accomplish that dream.
It all started for me from depths of despair when we were relegated and fought back with the McCreadie’s youngsters. We have had Dixon, Speedie, Nevin and so many great players. But I suggest that being a great player does not automatically grant you legendary status.
We have Ballack, Essien, Makalele, Hasselbaink, Gullit, Desailly and more. The quality of Chelsea amazes me every time I think back. But I’m very choosy about calling them legends.
And I don’t mind courting controversy and debate, so I’ll name you mine for you to consider.
Dave Sexton – a genius coach whose tactics of the day are still being used today.
Eddie McCreadie – who helped to create a wonderful team of youngsters out of nothing.
Jose Mourinho (Just the first two seasons alone) – has to be included but he has some bridge building to do after his last job.
Frank Lampard – only managed 211 goals (should have got more, lol) and clearly loves Chelsea. A future manager in the offing.
Gianfranco Zola – Everything that I consider good about football and sport in general rolled into one. Wonderful, wonderful footballer and person.
Didier Drogba – What else can you call him? Terrorised most opposition but especially Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool (our most loved opposition!!). And he is devoted to Chelsea. A legend no doubt.
Ashley Cole – Simply the best left in the world and turned his back on Arsenal to be with us. After the Champions League Final when told Germans never lose on penalties “…they do now”. Epic!
JT– Captain, Leader, Legend. He remains emblazoned across all of Chelsea. Long may it continue.
Eden Hazard – Of all our players, he is globally recognised as at or very near the pinnacle of world football.
Only player that makes me get off my seat in anticipation. When in full flow there is no better player. When he scored that goal against Arsenal, he retired Coquelin at the same time. I hope he stays with us for even longer.
N’Golo Kante – I watch in amazement at some of the things that he does. After being forced to change his favoured position, he is developing his skill set even further. With Hazard, a truly world class footballer and there’s more to come. And what is more astonishing is that he never seems to be aware of this God given gift. I met him recently and his humility was humbling for me.
There are of course others ingrained in our history, but I shall leave them in your hearts.
For me, I am already building my opinions on one more present-day Legend, who is about to embark on the road to becoming a legend. Can you guess who it is?
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