Greatest Chelsea XI Who Were Only Great Elsewhere

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 29:  The Chelsea badge is seen on the corner flag ahead of the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and West Ham United at Stamford Bridge on January 29, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

Every football club has its heroes, those players who often crop up in lists of greatest names and all-time line-ups.

But just because a player has been a legend for one team, it doesn't always mean he is guaranteed success elsewhere. Ask any fan and they will reel off the big-name signings who arrived to plenty of fanfare at their club only to make a quiet exit when it all went wrong.

Chelsea are no different, with their fair share of players who achieved little in West London, but were world renowned before they arrived or achieved great things when they departed.

Turning the notion of an all-time XI on its head, Bleacher Report has compiled a line-up of Chelsea players who never quite cut it at Stamford Bridge, but were celebrated elsewhere in their careers.


21 Oct 2001:  Mark Bosnich of Chelsea in action during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match against Leeds United played at Elland Road, in Leeds, England. The match ended in a 0-0 draw. \ Mandatory Credit: Michael Steele /Allsport
Michael Steele/Getty Images


Mark Bosnich

Having failed to emulate Peter Schmeichel at Old Trafford, Mark Bosnich arrived at Stamford Bridge in January 2001 with a point to prove.

The Australian had been a great goalkeeper for Aston Villa during his seven years at Villa Park and earned a fine reputation, which then took a beating at Old Trafford.

He never did win it back, either. From suffering as a United player, things got worse for him in West London, with a failed drugs test seeing him sacked by Chelsea in September 2002.


28 Sep 2000:  Winston Bogarde of Chelsea and Inoel Gane of St Gallen fight for the ball during the UEFA Cup First leg second round match between St Gallen and Chelsea played at the Hardturm Stadium in Zurich. Mandatory Credit: Graham Chadwick/ALLSPORT
Graham Chadwick/Getty Images

Winston Bogarde

The Dutch defender had a good reputation in European football before he moved to Chelsea in 2004. That soon changed, though, with Bogarde never settling in English football, putting in some woeful displays.

He quickly fell out of favor and when Chelsea tried to offload him, he preferred to sit tight on his lucrative contract, refusing a move.

Bogarde eventually left Stamford Bridge in 2004 when his contract expired, retiring shortly after. It was a sad end to a career that had seen him play for the likes of Ajax, AC Milan and Barcelona, also winning 20 caps for Holland.


BOLTON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 15: John Terry (right) and Asier Del Horno (left) of Chelsea celebrate their side's 2-0 victory during the Barclays Premiership match between Bolton Wanderers and Chelsea at the Reebok Stadium on April 15, 2006 in Bolton, En
Michael Steele/Getty Images


Asier del Horno

It was all going so well for Asier del Horno at Chelsea—until he faced Lionel Messi in the 2005-06 Champions League.

The youngster gave del Horno the run around at Stamford Bridge, getting the Spaniard sent off. Del Horno's Chelsea career never recovered, with him being sold to Valencia later that summer, just shy of a year since he arrived from Athletic Bilbao for £8 million.

He had been one of the rising stars of Spanish football, impressing at Bilbao. It never happened for him in a blue shirt, unfortunately.


Christian Panucci

9 Sep 2000:  Kevin Gallacher of Newcastle tussles with Christian Panucci of Chelsea during the Newcastle United v Chelsea FA Carling Premiership match at St. James Park, Newcastle. Mandatory Credit: Tom Shaw/ALLSPORT
Tom Shaw/Getty Images

Chelsea fans thought they were getting a real legend of the game when Christian Panucci joined the Blues on loan from Inter Milan in 2000.

It's true Panucci was well regarded in Europe, but certainly not at Chelsea. The Italian proved a major disappointment, playing just eight times in the league and rarely looking the part.

His career had taken him to the Bernabeu with Real, the San Siro with AC Milan and Inter, but it never worked out in London. To rub salt into the wound, he later spent eight years at Roma where he became one of the club's biggest heroes of the past decade.

17 Oct 1998:  Brian Laudrup of Chelsea during the FA Carling Premiership match against Charlton Athletic at Stamford Bridge in London. Chelsea won 2-1. \ Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK /Allsport
Getty Images/Getty Images


Brian Laudrup

Like his brother Michael, Brian Laudrup was an exciting player to watch and had all the zip and verve that Chelsea were looking for when he joined on a free transfer from Rangers in 1998.

Then 28, he was entering the prime years of his career, but he never seemed to fit in at Stamford Bridge.

Laudrup had been a hero during his four years in Scotland, winning titles aplenty and performing well for his country.

Life south of the border just didn't quite suit as he struggled to get to grips to Gianluca Vialli's rotation system and he soon left for Copenhagen five months after joining the Blues, being swapped for Bjarne Goldbaek.


Scott Parker

LONDON - FEBRUARY 21:  Dennis Bergkamp of Arsenal battles for the ball with Scott Parker of Chelsea during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on February 21, 2004 in London.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty I
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Injuries and managerial changes at Stamford Bridge ensured Scott Parker's 18 months as a Chelsea player have been among his most unfortunate and forgettable in his career.

He was at Charlton Athletic before joining Chelsea for £10 million in 2004. Since departing West London to join Newcastle United in 2005, he has also played for West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur and now Fulham.

He has been integral for each club, just not Chelsea.

LONDON - SEPTEMBER 27:  Emmanuel Petit of Chelsea runs with the ball during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match between Chelsea and Aston Villa held on September 27, 2003 at Stamford Bridge, in London. Chelsea won the match 1-0. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Get
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images


Emmanuel Petit

Once great for Arsenal, not so for Chelsea.

Frenchman Petit won the Premier League with the Gunners as part of a formidable midfield combination with Patrick Vieira. He was ruthless and commanded matches in a way Arsene Wenger's teams have not in the past decade.

Having joined Barcelona in 2000, he returned to the Premier League within a year, joining the Blues.

The same summer he arrived, a certain Frank Lampard also joined from West Ham United, although it's safe to say Petit never quite scaled the same heights as his former team-mate.


Juan Sebastian Veron

MONACO - APRIL 20:  A dejected Veron after the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between AS Monaco and Chelsea at Louis II Stadium on April 20, 2004 in Monaco.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

So impressive in Serie A with Sampdoria, Parma and Lazio, Veron's career in English football was a nightmare from start to finish.

He joined Manchester United for £28.1 million in 2001 and having failed to repeat his form from Serie A, he was offloaded to Chelsea for £15 million in 2003—the summer Roman Abramovich bought the club.

Veron's time at Chelsea wasn't much better than at United. He did score on his debut in a 2-1 win over Liverpool at Anfield, but that was the only positive to come from his four years as a Chelsea player.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 27:  Deco of Chelsea is challenged by James Milner of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on March 27, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images



Porto and Barcelona had made Deco's name, but by the time he arrived in England in 2008 many were predicting his time at the top was up, despite only being 30.

It didn't quite seem that way at first, though, with a memorable debut against Portsmouth that saw him score a wonder goal at Stamford Bridge—the Portuguese international grabbing all the headlines.

He even scored another golazo against Wigan Athletic the following week, but it was all downhill from there as Deco struggled to show the kind of form that had once seen him so revered in Portugal and Spain.

He left Chelsea in 2010.


Andriy Shevchenko

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - JULY 29:  Andriy Shevchenko of  Chelsea in action during the pre-season friendly match between Chelsea and a Malaysian Select XI, at the Shah Alam Stadium on July 29, 2008 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo by Peter Lim/Getty Image
Getty Images/Getty Images

It had been rumored for a long while that Chelsea were after signing Shevchenko. In 2006 they eventually got their man, but it came a couple of seasons too late for the Ukrainian.

The endeavor and desire were there, but his body simply wouldn't allow Shevchenko to perform at the levels we had grown accustomed to during his glory days at AC Milan.

He had once been the most feared striker in all Europe, but in England he became a stick with which to beat Chelsea and their willingness to splash big money on big stars.

For £30 million, the Blues got nine league goals from 48 games—that's £3.33 million per goal.

HULL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Fernando Torres of Chelsea celebrates scoring their second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Chelsea at KC Stadium on January 11, 2014 in Hull, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Ima
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images


Fernando Torres

There have been signs the Torres of old will return at Chelsea, but then tragedy often strikes in the form of injury or suspension.

If we're judging the Spaniard on goals alone, he has been an epic failure at Stamford Bridge, with his return nowhere near what would be expected of a £50 million striker.

He has brought other qualities to Chelsea, adapting his game to fit into a system not overly built for his strengths. The fact remains, though, that Torres at Liverpool and Atletico Madrid before then, was one of the world's finest strikers who most defenders feared. At Chelsea, it hasn't quite been like that.

The final team line-up
The final team line-upB/R (Pitch graphic courtesy of


Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes


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