6 Former Chelsea Players Who Came Back to Haunt the Blues
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In Italy it’s known as “the immutable law of the ex,” and Chelsea will be vulnerable to it when they play West Ham at Stamford Bridge this afternoon.
“What the hell are you going on about?” I hear a thousand perplexed readers cry. Well, it’s quite simple, really. Italian football fans, being rather a superstitious lot, believe that when a player comes up against his old club, he usually has a blinder.
So, if the player in question is a striker, he’ll probably score a brilliant goal and might even claim a hat-trick. If he’s a goalkeeper, you can bet he’ll save a couple of penalties or at the very least keep a clean sheet. Apparently, it’s written in the stars, or something.
Anyway, the point is the Blues will be coming up against two old boys today in the form of the Coles, Carlton and Joe. The former, you’ll remember, has already scored against Chelsea this season, in the 3-1 defeat at Upton Park in December. So, if Chelsea were playing the Hammers in Milan or Turin today, the alarm bells would most definitely be ringing.
Fortunately, we’re not in the land of gondoliers, parmesan cheese and gelati, so there’s no need to get the jitters. Or is there? You might think the Italians have a point, after all, if you look through the following slideshow, showcasing six ex-Chelsea players who all did the dirty on the Blues for their new clubs.
Cue that spooky X-Files music…
6. Gus Poyet
Gus Poyet in action against the Blues in 2002
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Goalscoring midfielder Gus Poyet quickly became a cult hero at the Bridge after joining Chelsea from Zaragoza in 1997. He helped Chelsea win the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1998, and two years later he was instrumental in the Blues’ progress to the FA Cup final, scoring both goals against Newcastle in the semi-final at Wembley.
In 2001 he made the always unpopular move to Tottenham. His standing among Chelsea fans dipped even further when he wildly celebrated his new club’s 5-1 thrashing of the Blues in the League Cup semi-final second leg at White Hart Lane.
5. Shaun Wright-Phillips
Shaun Wright-Phillips scoring the winner at the Bridge for QPR in January
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A £21 million signing from Manchester City in 2006, Shaun Wright-Phillips never quite lived up to that fee at the Bridge before returning to the Citizens two years later. Yes, he had his moments, but a tendency to overhit his crosses made him a less effective player than he might have been.
In 2011, he moved south again, joining QPR. He hasn’t really gone down a storm at Loftus Road either, scoring just one league goal for the Hoops to date. But guess who it came against? Of course it was Chelsea: SWP fired in a low 20-yard shot to give Rangers a shock victory at the Bridge earlier this year.
4. Glen Johnson
Glen Johnson attacks the Chelsea defence
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The first signing of the Roman Abramovich era, right-back Glen Johnson joined the Blues from West Ham in 2003. After a good start to his Chelsea career, he lost his place to Paulo Ferreira. In 2007, he moved on to Portsmouth.
Two years later, he joined Liverpool, and it was with the Reds that he made his most dramatic intervention against the Blues to date, scoring a late winner last season at the Bridge after a pacy run through the Chelsea defence.
3. Alan Hudson
The great Alan Hudson in his Arsenal days
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A brilliant midfield creator who came through the ranks to become a key member of the Chelsea side which won the FA Cup in 1970 and the European Cup Winners’ Cup the following year, Alan Hudson moved on to Stoke City in January 1974 after a bust-up with Blues boss Dave Sexton.
Returning to the Bridge later that season, he defied the boo-boys by scoring the only goal of the game. In the rest of his career with the Potters and Arsenal, he never lost in a total of eight games against the Blues.
2. Clive Walker
Clive Walker misses his penalty in the 1985 League Cup final
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Pacy winger Clive Walker was a huge favourite with the Bridge crowd after breaking into the first team in 1977.
The following year, he enjoyed probably his best-ever game for the Blues, scoring twice in a memorable 4-2 victory over European champions Liverpool in the FA Cup third round. His most important goal, though, came in 1983 when he scored the winner in a game at Bolton which kept Chelsea from falling into the old Third Division.
In 1984, Walker moved on to Sunderland in a £75,000 deal. The following year, he scored twice in the Wearsiders’ 3-2 victory at the Bridge in the League Cup semi-final second leg, sparking a mini-riot among disappointed Blues fans, which led to Blues chairman Ken Bates announcing plans for electrified fences at the ground.
1. Bobby Smith
The late Bobby Smith at the 2007 FA Cup final
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As a barrel-chested teenage striker at the Bridge, Bobby Smith made little impression, but it was a very different story once he left Chelsea for Tottenham in 1955.
Apparently holding a deep grudge against his old employers, Smith scored no fewer than 10 goals against the Blues over the next decade.
His best game came in April 1960 when he notched all three of Spurs’ goals in their 3-1 win at the Bridge. The following year, he was a part of the Tottenham team that became the first in the twentieth century to win the league and cup double.
He later played for Brighton before, to the relief of Chelsea fans, finally hanging up his boots in 1965.