Nicolas Anelka Scores 50th Chelsea Goal: Looking Back on the Wonderful Times
When Nicolas Anelka rolled the ball into the bottom corner of the goal against Spartak Moscow on Tuesday night, it was his 50th goal scored in the Chelsea blue.
Despite playing for seven previous clubs, (Paris Saint Germain twice, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Fenerbahce, Liverpool, Manchester City and Bolton Wanderers), Anelka had never reached the 50-goal mark for any single side.
Signed from Bolton for £15m in January 2008, Anelka (who converted to Islam in 2004, taking the name Abdul-Salam Bilal) came with a reputation for being a somewhat moody character. Nicknamed "Le Sulk," his mood swings had become legendary within the game and often brought him into conflict with his managers. A prime example is his recent ostracising from the French national side.
At Chelsea, however, he seems to have finally found a home. He is enjoying his football and has become an integral part of Carlo Ancelotti's side.
This slideshow presents an overview of Anelka's time with the Blues.
13th January 2008: Chelsea 2 Tottenham Hotspurs 0—Anelka Makes Chelsea Debut
With Chelsea leading north London rivals Tottenham 2-0, the time seemed ripe for Chelsea to unleash their new £15m signing.
With half an hour to play, Nicolas Anelka came on to a grand reception from the Stamford Bridge faithful.
Nico went close to scoring too, seeing his fierce strike cannon off the crossbar.
This was just a small glance of what was to come.
26th January 2008: Wigan Athletic 1 Chelsea 2—Anelka's First Goal
In an away tie in the fourth round of the FA Cup against Wigan, Anelka broke his Chelsea duck.
In the 53rd minute, Anelka broke free of the Wigan defence to latch on to Juliano Belletti's through ball to give Chelsea a two-goal lead.
2nd February 2008: Portsmouth 1 Chelsea 1—First Premier League Goal
In a scrappy game, Anelka opened his Premier League account for Chelsea by turning in a cross from Joe Cole.
Chelsea would only draw the game (a problem that would eventually cost Chelsea in the end), but it was more important for Anelka to find his goalscoring feet.
23 March 2008: Chelsea 2 Arsenal 1—The Start of a Beautiful Friendship
Nico didn't score in this game, but something more important was going on.
With Arsenal leading 1-0, Anelka was introduced in the 70th minute against his former club as Chelsea reverted to a 4-4-2 formation.
Again, Anelka didn't score, but what was impressive was his link up play with Didier Drogba.
This was the only time the duo would play as a traditional front two under manager Avram Grant. Perhaps if they had played together more often, things may have played out rather differently for Grant.
21st May 2008: Manchester United 1 Chelsea 1—The Lowest Point
With all the attention given to John Terry's slip, it is often forgotten it was Anelka's missed penalty that gave Manchester United victory.
1st November 2008: Chelsea 5 Sunderland 0—First Chelsea Hat Trick
With Didier Drogba suffering with injuries as well as off-pitch problems, it was left to Nicolas Anelka to lead the Chelsea attack.
It was in a game at Stamford Bridge that Anelka secured his first competitive hat trick in Chelsea colours (he had scored three in a preseason game against AC Milan).
It was hardly a classic hat trick though. The furthest he scored from was three yards.
24th May 2009: Sunderland 2 Chelsea 3—Golden Boot Winner
On the final day of the Premier League season, Anelka collected the ball on the halfway line and ran with it towards goal before launching a 25-yard shot into the roof of the Sunderland net.
It was Anelka's 24th goal of the season and his 20th in the league, securing him the Premier League Golden Boot.
9th May 2010: Chelsea 8 Wigan Athletic 0: Champion
With victory required to secure the Premier League title on the final day of the season against Wigan Athletic, it was Anelka who stepped up to send Chelsea on their way with just six minutes gone.
Nico added a second goal in the second half to make it 4-0 with a sublime volley.
This was the first half of Chelsea's domestic double, a feat Anelka had achieved 12 years earlier with rivals Arsenal.
19th October 2010: Spartak Moscow 0 Chelsea 2—50 Up
In the 43rd minute, Anelka latches on to a Michael Essien pass to race clear of the Spartak Moscow defence. Once inside the penalty area, he cuts inside the Moscow defence before placing the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal.
Arms spread wide, he wheels away to celebrate his goal, a sight that has become familiar to Chelsea fans in the last two-and-a-half years.
With 50 goals in 127 appearances, Anelka has become a firm fan favourite, and he shows no signs of stopping.
The wandering nomad of football has at last found a home.