Chelsea FC: Top 15 Blues Legends of All Time
Many great men have been a part of the rich history of Chelsea football club.
From amazing players to fine managers, there is no shortage of fantastic footballing figures who are more than worthy of a place in every supporter's memory.
To be a legend at a club, though, you need a little more than just be a great player: you also need to be a fan favourite, a leader amongst men, and an important player in the establishment of this European power.
So spoiled for choice was I in making this list that I was forced to omit many very worthy candidates, including some current players who will undoubtedly be shoo-ins for this list once we get a bit further separated from their tenure (Didier Drogba springs to mind).
So, let's get into it: here are Chelsea FC's 15 all-time greatest legends.
15. Jose Mourinho
It may be less than five years since Mourinho and Chelsea parted ways, but the legacy of the Portuguese manager will certainly be a lasting one.
In just three full seasons at the club, Mourinho became the most successful manager in the club's history by earning six trophies (two Premier League titles, two FA Cups, one League Cup, and one Community Shield) and two Premier League manager of the year awards.
He never quite got over the hump of the Champions League as he has at most of his other clubs, but Mourinho's time at Stamford Bridge established the Blues as an English powerhouse club.
Perhaps if Chelsea were to get a strong manager that kept the job for a period of time and won multiple trophies, then the legend of Jose would diminish.
However, as more time passes with one of the closest things to a managerial carousel, Mourinho's reputation at Chelsea continues to grow.
14. Marcel Desailly
Desailly came into Chelsea an already established quantity.
He had won the Champions League with Marseille and Milan and had even just won the World Cup with France.
Upon arriving for the Blues, Desailly took over as captain and immediately had an impact, leading Chelsea to UEFA Super Cup, FA Cup, and FA Charity Shield triumphs.
His centre-back partnership with Frank Leboeuf was one of the best pairings in Chelsea history.
Desailly may have left Chelsea right before the glory of the Mourinho era, but his mentoring of John Terry certainly had an impact on the club past his direct involvement.
13. Pat Nevin
In the 1980s, Pat Nevin's skill and pace were unmatched at Chelsea.
He was twice voted Chelsea's player of the year and won promotion for the Blues into the First Division in his first season with the club.
His extremely entertaining play and ability to create goals made him a firm fan favourite.
12. Steve Clarke
Steve Clarke played 11 years and had 330 appearances for Chelsea from the late 80s to the late 90s.
He was probably the greatest right back in Blues history and helped the club to four trophies.
Clarke even returned to the club as an assistant manager to Mourinho during the glorious Premier League title runs.
11. Roberto Di Matteo
As a player, Roberto Di Matteo was a Chelsea great, but his status as a legend was questionable.
In six years, the midfielder helped the Blues to two FA Cups; in both, he scored the winning goals in the finals, including what was at the time the quickest in the history of the Cup final (43 seconds).
Di Matteo was certainly deserves mention as one of the greatest players in Chelsea history, but his exploits in the past few months are what has catapulted him into the status of legend.
After Andre Villas-Boas led the team to an unsatisfactory position in the league and a seemingly insurmountable deficit in the Champions League Round of 16, Di Matteo took the reins at manager and has led the Blues on a charge that has seen them make the Champions League final.
RDM should get the full-time position as manager and could add to his legacy from there.
However, if he were to walk away after the final, his actions as manager and player at Chelsea has already established him as a Blues legend.
10. Terry Venables
As a player at Chelsea, Venables was a great.
In the early 60s, Venables scored in a League Cup Final victory, earning a trophy for his club, and just missed out on an FA Cup title.
The midfielder scored 26 goals in six years at the club.
After his playing career, he had a successful tenure as manager of the England national team, where he led the Three Lions to a third place finish in Euro 1996, which added to his placement as an English footballing legend.
9. Dennis Wise
Dennis Wise was the personification of grit and determination on the pitch.
His small stature made him seem like a terrier, running everywhere and leaving his heart on the field every match.
Sometimes this led him to be a little over the top with his actions, which would frequently lead him into disciplinary trouble and prompted Sir Alex Ferguson to say that he could "start a fight in an empty house."
However, these troubles seemed only to make Chelsea fans embrace Wise all the more.
In his time at Chelsea, Wise led the Blues to six trophies, including two FA Cups and a League Cup.
It was his equalizer away to Milan in the Champions League in 1999, though, that Wise will be most remembered for.
8. Ron Harris
In the 1960s and 70s, Ron Harris was the face of Chelsea.
Chopper's 795 appearances still has him as the highest appearance holder in the club's history.
Harris's tough tackles and hard defending were his trademark and allowed him to help lead Chelsea to three trophies in his 19 years at the club.
7. Kerry Dixon
In nine years at Chelsea, Kerry Dixon played 420 matches and scored 193 goals, making him the second highest scorer and appearance grabber in Blues history.
In his first year at the club, Dixon led Chelsea to the Second Division title and promotion back to the First Division.
With a final day hat-trick against Millwall in 1989-90, Dixon led the Blues to fifth in the league, their highest output in 20 years.
Dixon's ability in front of net was what made him a fan favourite and a Chelsea legend.
6. Frank Lampard
Lampard's status on this list is, of course, hurt by the fact that he is still playing.
However, he has already built an incredible resume for himself at Chelsea.
In 11 years at Stamford Bridge, Lampard has earned ten trophies and has 172 goals and 110 assists from midfield.
He has been an integral part of the most successful Chelsea side in history.
Even now, in his later years, he has been an important part of the club, netting 16 goals this season and setting up two goals in the epic Champions League semi-final conquering of Barcelona.
Just like all of his teammates, Lampard will certainly move up this list when he calls it a career.
5. Peter Bonetti
Over a twenty year period Peter Bonetti played 600 matches at net for Chelsea.
Nicknamed "The Cat" (could there be a more complimentary nickname for a keeper?), Bonetti was one of the greatest keepers in the history of the sport.
He led Chelsea to an FA Cup and Cup Winner's Cup trophies and conceded one goal or less in two-thirds of his matches.
He may have come before the good times at Chelsea, but Bonetti is certainly a legend at the club.
4. John Terry
Terry is still the captain of Chelsea, which hurts him on this list.
After all, he is still adding to his legend.
However, he has captained the Blues in the most successful period in the club's history, earning 11 trophies in thirteen years and even winning a PFA Player of the Year Award at centre back.
His hard defending and ability to head goals in from set pieces has made him a worry for opposing teams at both ends of the pitch.
In all likelihood, Terry will vault to the top or near the top of this list when he retires.
3. Bobby Tambling
Bobby Tambling holds the all-time scoring record for Chelsea with 202 goals in 370 matches and the scoring in a game record with five in a match against Aston Villa.
His tenure at the club spanned the 60s, where his goal-scoring prowess only served him with one trophy: the 1965 League Cup.
Despite the club's lack of success, Tambling's ability in front of net has made him a Blues hero.
2. Peter Osgood
Osgood's tenure can best be captured by his performance in the 1969-70 FA Cup.
In every single round, Ossie found the back of the net, including an unbelievable match-winning diving header against Leeds in the final.
The following season, he scored in both legs of the European Cup Winner's Cup, leading Chelsea to a victory over Real Madrid.
In ten years and 279 appearances, Osgood scored 103 goals.
However, it wasn't just the number of goals he scored, it was the way he scored them that made Ossie such a Chelsea hero.
1. Gianfranco Zola
Gianfranco Zola came to Chelsea and scored 80 goals in 297 matches.
However, these numbers undercut Zola's importance to the club.
Throughout his career at Stamford Bridge, he was a fan favourite and charmed his way into the hearts of all supporters.
He led the team to six trophies, including two FA Cups and even a UEFA Cup Winner's Cup and Super Cup in the same year.
Zola's abilities on the pitch are best captured by Claudio Ranieri, who said this after the Italian scored a back-heeled goal in 2002: "Gianfranco tries everything because he is a wizard and the wizard must try."
Gianfranco may have come directly before the glories of Premier League titles, but he paved the way for Chelsea to become the club they are today.