Top 10 All-Time Chelsea Greats

Alan McGuinnessSenior Analyst ISeptember 24, 2010

Top 10 All-Time Chelsea Greats

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    Over the course of Chelsea's 105-year history, many great players have played for the club.

    From Bentley to Zola to Lampard, the list of legends that have played at Stamford Bridge is long and distinguished. 

    But who is the best of the best? Read on to find out where Blues past and present rank in the list of all-time greats...

10. Didier Drogba

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    A controversial figure at times, Drogba’s potency as a striker is under no question.

    The Ivorian has scored goals that have won FA Cups, League Cups, Charity Shields and countless encounters against the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, and Liverpool.

    When he is at the top of his game he is nigh on unplayable, as many defenders would attest to.

    The £24 million purchase from Marseille has been rising up the scoring charts and is currently the club’s 6th highest scorer of all-time.

    Last season he hit 37 goals—his best total in a Chelsea shirt.

9. Peter Bonetti

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    Peter Cech can lay some claim to being one of Chelsea's best-ever goalkeepers, but Peter Bonetti is regarded by many as the club's best.

    During his two spells at the club (1960-1975 and 1976-1979) he was virtually first choice between the sticks, and he earned the nickname "The Cat" for his agility and reflexes.

    He kept a staggering 200+ clean sheets and made over 700 appearances.

8. Dennis Wise

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    It was once said of the midfielder that he could start a fight in an empty house, and the joke encapsulates the playing style that endeared him to Chelsea fans.

    Wise led a Chelsea side that was beginning to win silverware again after a long barren spell.

    He arrived in West London from Wimbledon in 1990 for a then-club-record transfer fee of £1.6 million.

    Wise was voted player of the year in 1998 and 2000 and captained the club to triumphs in the FA Cup (twice), League Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup.

    He was sold to Leicester City in 2001.

7. Roy Bentley

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    Before John Terry, there was Roy Bentley.

    Chelsea’s first-ever league-title-winning captain scored 150 goals for the club in eight seasons and was the top scorer in every one of them.

    This puts him joint fourth with Peter Osgood in Chelsea’s all-time goalscorers list.

    A year after the league success, Bentley left for neighbours Fulham, but his contribution to Chelsea’s first league title has never been forgotten by the club.

    He was at Stamford Bridge when John Terry lifted the Premier League trophy in 2005.

6. Bobby Tambling

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    Tambling's place among the Chelsea greats is sealed by the fact that he is the club's top goalscorer of all-time.

    He made his debut as a 17-year-old in 1959 against West Ham.

    After the departure of Jimmy Greaves to AC Milan in 1961, he was given his chance to shine, and he demonstrated his precocious talent.

    Tambling hit 22 goals but couldn’t stop the club being relegated to the Second Division. The next season Chelsea’s new manager, Tommy Docherty, made Tambling captain and the Blues came straight back up. Tambling scored nearly half of the team’s total that season—35.

    Despite his prolific scoring exploits, Tambling only won one trophy with the club: the League Cup in 1965.

    Two years later Chelsea lost the FA Cup final to Tottenham.

    In January 1970 he was sold to Crystal Palace, and four months later, Chelsea beat Leeds in the final of that very competition at Wembley.

5. John Terry

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    Chelsea’s current and most successful captain has been at the heart of the club’s success over the past five years.

    Countless managers have relied on Terry’s leadership and commitment to drive the Blues forward.

    Terry came up through the youth system and made his debut against Aston Villa 12 years ago in a League Cup tie.

    However, Chelsea very nearly let their leader go. Then-Huddersfield manager Steve Bruce had a bid of £750,000 accepted in 2000, but Terry decided to stay in West London.

    The following season was when Terry began to establish himself in the first team, and two years later manager Claudio Ranieri handed him the captaincy when Marcel Desailly was out injured.

    Jose Mourinho kept him as captain when he took over in 2004, and since then Terry has hardly looked back.

4. Frank Lampard

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    A midfield ever-present, Lampard has grown into a talismanic figure at Chelsea, and no other midfielder has scored more goals for the club than he has. 

    His time at Chelsea started back in 2001 when he moved from London rivals West Ham. 

    He took time to develop, and under the tutelage of Jose Mourinho he developed into one of the best midfielders in the world.

    Lampard’s knack for finding the net has won many games for the Blues, but perhaps his most important strikes came in a league match against Bolton in April 2005.

    Chelsea needed a win to seal their first league title in 50 years and Lampard duly obliged, scoring two goals to spark wild celebrations.

    Aged 32, he still has a number of seasons left at Chelsea, and by the time he hangs up his boots he could very well be Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer.

    Chelsea may not have another midfielder like him for quite some time.

3. Ron Harris

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    "Chopper" holds the appearance record for Chelsea—a staggering 975 games from 1961 to 1980.  

    The defender came up through the ranks like Osgood and captained the side to victory in the 1970 FA Cup Final.

    The next season, he helped the Blues win their first ever European trophy, the Cup Winners' Cup. They beat Real Madrid 2-1 in a replay after the first game finished 1-1.

    His nickname stems from his uncompromising style on the pitch and harks back to a much more physical era.

    Nowadays he is often seen on the club's TV channel, Chelsea TV.

2. Peter Osgood

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    Ossie is known as the "King of Stamford Bridge" and you can regularly hear his name ring around the ground on matchdays. 

    He was the talisman of the stylish '70s side and scored in every round as Chelsea won the FA Cup in 1970, beating Leeds United 2-1 in a notoriously physical final.

    His equaliser—a diving header—is regarded by many Chelsea fans an iconic goal.

    He scored 150 goals for the club and died in 2006 aged just 59.

    A statue of him will be unveiled on October 3rd, the day Chelsea play Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.

1. Gianfranco Zola

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    Voted the club’s greatest player in a poll, you would struggle to find few who would argue.

    Zola arrived at Stamford Bridge in November 1996, when the club was experiencing something of a revival.

    He made an immediate impact in his debut season, scoring a number of memorable goals.

    After he found the net against Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson branded him a "clever little so-and-so."

    The next season, he was key again: Zola scored the winner in the Cup Winners' Cup final against Stuttgart. The Italian came off the bench and scored with his second touch.

    Towards the end of his Chelsea career, Zola found his first-team opportunities somewhat more limited, but the flashes of genius were always there. 

    In his final appearance for the club, against Liverpool in May 2003, he beat four Reds players with a mazy dribble that drew applause from both sets of fans.

    Zola played 312 games for Chelsea and scored 80 goals.