Drogba, Zola, Gullit and Chelsea's 25 Greatest Foreign Imports

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Drogba, Zola, Gullit and Chelsea's 25 Greatest Foreign Imports
Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

Nils Middelboe was the first and there have been countless others ever since at Chelsea.

A midfielder hailing from Denmark, Middelboe joined the Blues in 1913, becoming the club's inaugural overseas player and thus setting a precedent that has served Chelsea well in the 101 years since.

He made 46 appearances during his eight years at Stamford Bridge, and while his impact may not have matched that of his fellow foreign Blues down the years, his place in history is secure.

Football has become a global game in the modern era and is far from the days when Middelboe turned out in West London; it's now the norm for clubs to feature a cosmopolitan lineup.

Indeed, Chelsea themselves became the first-ever club in English football to field a team made up entirely of foreign players in a Boxing Day fixture against Southampton in 1999, while others have since followed suit.

A proud record or a damning indictment of English football? It depends what side of the fence you sit, but needless to say, without their overseas stars, Chelsea's history would read much different to the one we know.

The famous stars to have donned Chelsea blue is an impressive list of talent, featuring World Cup winners and some of the biggest names to have graced the European stage.

To celebrate their influence at Stamford Bridge, we count down Chelsea's top 25 foreign imports.

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