As one of the most decorated teams in England, Chelsea Football Club has had many great players throughout the years se we’ve decided to pick the best Chelsea XI of all time. Stick with us to find out who’s on the list.
Although for much of Chelsea’s history, they have been a relatively small club compared to their London rivals, that has changed significantly over the past two decades as they have been a strong contender in the Premier League as well as occasionally in Europe because of Russian Billionaire, Roman Abramovic, who took over the club back in 2003.
Abramovic ushered in a new era that started with the arrival of great players, continued with Chelsea winning league titles and cup trophies and now stands at a point that sees Chelsea as one of the most successful and most decorated English clubs. So it’s only natural to take a look at the actual players who brought the club its trophies to comprise a
best Chelsea XI of all time
. So let’s review this list, shall we?!
Obviously with Chelsea experiencing most of its success in the past two decades it is only natural that most of the players of the Chelsea best XI of all time are from this era but we’ve made sure that there are some players from former generations as well. Let us see who:
No one is even close to competing with Petr Cech for the goalkeeper spot in our
Chelsea best 11 of all time
since Cech was genuinely one of the finest goalkeepers of all time. Cech arrived at Chelsea in 2004 in a £7 million deal from Rennes and he ended up being worth at least 10 times that amount. Up to that point of his career Cech had played for Chmel Blsany and the more well-knownSparta Prague
in his country of Czech Republic before moving to Ligue 1 sideRennes
where he caught the eye of Chelsea’s recruitment team.
He immediately proved them right as his first season was a record breaking one, where Cech registered a whopping 24 clean sheets as Mourinho’s Chelsea won the Premier League by a landslide. His record of 24 clean sheets in a single season still stands today and it was only the start of a massively successful career that Cech would go on to have at Chelsea.
Holding the record for the most clean sheets for Chelsea football club (228), Cech was a pillar in Chelsea’s most successful era, helping the club win 4 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 3 League Cups, 1 UEFA Champions League title, and 1 UEFA Europa League title. He also holds the record for most clean sheets in the Premier League (202) as well as the record for most Golden Gloves (4). His stature at the club is so high that even a move toArsenal
didn’t lessen the love Chelsea fans have for him. So quite fittingly Petr Cech is our choice goalkeeper for the best Chelsea XI of all time.
Ashley Cole was already a fan favorite when he arrived at Chelsea in 2006, mainly due to the fact that he switched sides from then Champions League finalists and London’s biggest club, Arsenal, to join Chelsea, who were trying to knock Arsenal off their throne. Although domestically wasn’t able to replicate what he did at Arsenal, his contribution to Chelsea’s European glory years was immense which is why he is amongst our greatest Chelsea XI of all time.
Regarded as one of the best left backs of all time, Ashley Cole was a machine that rarely seemed to tire. He was one of the few full backs that balanced his attacking and defensive sensibilities perfectly. Cole operated like a midfielder in attack, which he displayed often in his time at Arsenal, and he was a capable defender and a great tackler who knew how to mark even the best attackers. His speed and agility allowed made it so that he was rarely caught out of position.
Although Cole joined Chelsea to win more league titles, he only managed to win the Premier League once in the 2009-10 season but he did also win 4 FA Cup titles, 1 League Cup, 1 Europa League title and a Champions League trophy. He was released by Chelsea after the 2013-14 season after playing 338 games for Chelsea in which he scored 7 goals, earning his place amongst the best Chelsea XI of all time.
The only active player on our
Chelsea all-time greatest XI
is the Serbian right back Branislav Ivanovic who joined Chelsea in 2008 and stayed with the Blues for 10 seasons, during which he won almost everything with Chelsea. Having started his career in his home country with teams like Srem and Beograd, Ivanovic’s career really took off when he joined the Russian sideLokomotiv Moscow
. It wasn’t long before Chelsea scouted him and he joined them at the beginning of 2008.
After a turbulent first few months at Chelsea that were lacking in game time,Ivanovic
finally got into the first team and he gradually established himself as the first choice right back. Ivanovic’s no-nonsense defending as well as him being an aerial threat from set pieces proved an advantage to Chelsea and his fullback partnership with Ashley Cole seemed perfect for Chelsea and in fact would prove vital to Chelsea’s success during Ivanovic’s time at Stamford Bridge.
Branislav Ivanovic managed to win 3 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups, 1 League Cup, 1 Champions League and 1 Europa League during his years at Chelsea. He appeared in 377 matches for the Blues scoring 34 goals, which is just incredible for a defender. His personal best was during the 2012-13 season where he scored 8 goals. Whether it was defensive contribution or an attacking one, Ivanovic never came short for Chelsea and that’s why we have included him in the best Chelsea XI of all time.
If we were to choose a captain for our Chelsea best 11 of all time it would be John Terry. The English defender had everything that a captain should have, such as leadership qualities and a strong drive for winning, but he was also a complete defender on the pitch, one the best of his generation. Amongst all the superstars that played forChelsea
in the post-Abramovic era, it was John Terry, a product of Chelsea’s own academy, that led the club to unbridled success and in the process became a legend of the club.
John Terry made his first appearance for Chelsea in 1998 long before the Abramovic’s acquisition of the club. Terry was very much a complete defender. a ball playing center back who initiated the build-up play but was as well a phenomenal man-marker and a great tackler. In addition to this, Terry was also a goal threat from set-pieces, as he excelled in the air. He was named UEFA’s Defender of the Year 3 times and PFA’s Player of the Season in 2005, the same season he led Chelsea to their first ever league title in 50 years.
With 717 appearances, Terry has the 3
most appearances for Chelsea. He has also scored an impressive tally of 67 goals. Terry is also the most successful captain in Chelsea’s history, having led them to 5 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 3 League Cups, 1 Europa League and 1 Champions League title. a mandatory inclusion to any best Chelsea XI of all time list, John Terry’s legacy at Chelsea will forever be untouched!
Many of Chelsea fans today may not know him but for the old guards among those fans, Ron Harris is a legend. Nicknamed the Chopper, for his famous late tackles which left many players with scars and bruises, Ron Harris enjoyed playing for Chelsea at both the Division 1 and 2 for almost 2 decades. Harris also holds the record for most appearances at Chelsea with 795.
Part of the Chelsea academy side that won the FA Youth Cup in 1961, Ron Harris found his way Chelsea’s first team soon after and established himself as the choice center back and the captain of the club. Ron Harris rarely missed a match, with him having an average appearance of 41 out 42 matches in 10 of his 18 season at the club. He became the youngest captain to lead a team to the FA Cup final in 1967 but despite their loss against Tottenham in that final, Harris managed to lead them to victory 3 years later against Leeds.
He then led Chelsea to their first ever European trophy the following season as they won the 1970-71 Cup Winners’ Cup, which along with his FA Cup and League Cup trophies are his only honors at the club. Despite his great success with the club, Ron Harris’ popularity amongst Chelsea fans is because of his unwavering loyalty to the club through thick and thin as he stayed with them through 3 relegations. There could be no other choice than Ron Harris as John Terry’s partner in the heart of defense for the
best Chelsea XI of all time
Arguably the best Ghanaian player of all time and one of the best midfielders of his generation, Micheal Essien was a machine operating at the base of midfield. As a midfielder Essien had everything, power, speed and technique. Joining fromLyon
in 2005 in a hefty £24.4 million transfer that made him the most expensive African player at the time, Essien had a lot to prove and he not only did it but went even further, becoming one of the best ever Chelsea player and worthy of the inclusion among the Chelsea best 11 of all time.
Essien’s physical attributes were rarely matched by a player in his peak and yet it was his intelligence that set him apart from other strong defensive midfielders of his era. Essien’s tactical awareness of when to attack and when to defend led players like Frank Lampard to roam freely and this led to Chelsea’s dominance in the years he was part of the club. He was also able to score from long distances which earned him Chelsea’s Goal of the Season award twice.
Michael Essien spent 9 season as a Chelsea player, one of which was out on loan toReal Madrid
. He managed to play in 256 matches for Chelsea, scoring 25 goals. He was an integral part of a Chelsea side that won 2 Premier League titles, 4 FA cup and 1 League Cup trophies as well as the Champions League title in the 2011-12 season. he was even named as Chelsea Player of the Year in 2006-07 season. and he comfortably slots in as the defensive midfielder for our best Chelsea XI of all time.
there are those who could argue that Frank Lampard isn’t the best Chelsea player of all time but their numbers pale against the legions of Chelsea fans and football fans who regard the English man as not only the best Chelsea player ever but also as one of the best midfielders of all time. During his lengthy career at Chelsea, Lampard not only won practically everything but was one of the main reasons Chelsea experienced such a success.
Coming from a footballing background, with his dad being a formerWest Ham
player and his uncle and cousin being Harry Redknapp and Jamie Redknapp, Frank Jr. had a lot to live up to and he managed to do so and go miles beyond what those guys had accomplished. A complete midfielder who could do everything on a pitch, Lampard joined Chelsea from West Ham before the Abramovic era in 2001. Together with John Terry, Lampard became a pillar that the new Chelsea was built on and over the years he proved exactly why Chelsea always built around him.
The fact that in a club with so much talented players, especially in Lampard’s own era, a box-to-box midfielder like Frank Lampard becomes the club’s leading goal scorer is just astonishing. Lampard scored 211 goals in 648 appearances for Chelsea and became an icon of the club by helping them win 3 Premier Leagu titles, 4 FA Cup trophies, 2 League Cups, a Champions League title and a Europa League. He even was a one-time runner up for the Ballon d’Or in 2005. Lampard departed from Chelsea after 13 seasons of service in 2014.
Another one of several Chelsea players during the 70s to make an appearance on our list of Chelsea all-time greatest XI is Alan Hudson. Although originally aFulham
fan, Hudson got rejected by his childhood club and instead got picked up by their local rivals, Chelsea. By the time Hudson was 17, he had already made his debut for Chelsea and soon he became a staple in their midfield alongside John Hollins.
Alan Hudson was a complete midfielder that could do everything. Think of Frank Lampard but without his eye for goal. Hudson was part of a Chelsea team known for their beautiful displays and technical prowess on the pitch and he could hold up his own. He was the heart of their attack, providing players like Osgood and Hutchinson with many scoring chances as well as occasionally helping out in defensive duties.
Hudson was instrumental in Chelsea’s successful FA Cup run in the 1970, although he did miss out on the final due to injury. He also helped Chelsea beat Real Madrid in the Cup Winners’ Cup the following season, which would be their first ever European title. after a falling out between Hudson and Chelsea’s then-manager David Sexton, he left the club in 1974, having played 189 matches during 5 seasons for Chelsea. He went on to play for Stoke City and Arsenal before moving out to USA.
Gianfranco Zola is arguably the single most important player in Chelsea’s history. Zola who gained reputation as part of aNapoli
team that had the likes of Diego Maradona, later established himself a world-class player atParma
before joining Chelsea in 1996 alongside the legendary Ruud Gullit who also acted as the manager of the club. The two led Chelsea to a new era of success, with Zola helping Chelsea win the Fa Cup in his first season as well as being named Player of the Year in the Premier League.
On the pitch, As Claudio Ranieri puts it, Zola was a wizard. A capable striker who had incredible technique and silky touch. Zola could create goals as well as score them and he was the master of scoring beautiful goals, with some of his goals just being outrageous lobs or even back heels. He mainly acted as a support striker behind players like Gianluca Vialli or Jimmy Floyd Hasselbank.
The winning mentality that Zola brought to Chelsea was the platform that Roman Abramovic built on after he acquired the club in 2003, which was coincidentally Zola’s last season at the club. Zola, who was by then 36 years old, proved why he was named Chelsea’s best ever player after he scored 16 goals that season, his personal best at Chelsea, and dragged Chelsea to a Champions League spot finish, giving a great boost to Abramovic ‘s recruitment over the following seasons.
During his 7 seasons at Chelsea, Gianfranco Zola appeared in 311 matches and scored 80 goals, helping Chelsea enjoy a run of cup victories that included 2 FA Cups,1 League Cup, 1 Cup Winners’ Cup and a UEFA Supercup. He not only deserves to be a part of the
greatest Chelsea XI of all time
but he deserves to be the first name on any such list!
Some call him the Wizard of Os and some the King of Stamford Bridge but no matter what you call him Peter Osgood is an immense figure in the history of Chelsea football club. A product of Chelsea’s own youth and reserves team, Osgood became a teenage sensation when he scored two goals on his debut for Chelsea and he didn’t ever stop after that.
Part of the same Chelsea side that Ron Harris, another member of the
Chelsea best XI of all time
, was part of, Osgood was integral to Chelsea’s moderate success during the 60s and 70s. although Osgood was occasionally used as a midfielder too, his main position was of course as a center forward. His height as well as his finishing touch made him a deadly striker that especially thrived in big occasions like cup finals.
In fact, Osgood’s goals in the finals of both 1970’s FA Cup and the 1970-71 Cup Winners’ Cup brought Chelsea the prize, which would be Osgood’s only trophies during a decade that he spent at Chelsea. Osgood made 289 appearances for Chelsea and scored 105 goals. Nicknamed the King of Stamford Bridge, Osgood is one of the few players that has a statue outside the aforementioned stadium and he absolutely deserves a spot amongst the best Chelsea XI of all time.
The last player on our list of Chelsea all-time greatest XI is none other than the Didier Drogba. The Ivorian striker is one of the most beloved figures at Stamford Bridge and for good reason too. Drogba’s match winning performances and game-winning goals, especially in the big games, brought Chelsea that much needed edge in attack that eventually led them to their first Premier League title with other titles and trophies following closely after it.
Drogba was somewhat of a late bloomer when it came to football as he signed his first professional contract at the age of 21 and played for the better part of 4 seasons at the French Ligue 2. But his exploits at Guingamp and later Marseille convinced Jose Mourinho to insist on Drogba’s transfer to Chelsea. He soon proved his worth as he led Chelsea to their first ever league title in 50 years. Although Drogba’s goal average fluctuated heavily from season to season one thing remained a constant in his performances and it was the fact that he would always perform in big matches.
Drogba scored 10 goals in 10 cup finals and won 10 trophies with Chelsea, 4 in the FA Cup finals and 3 in the League Cup. but perhaps his most important goal was the equalizer against Bayern Munich in the 88th minute of the Champions League which came from a bullet header. The goal proved vital as Chelsea went on to win the trophy for the first time ever.
Overall Didier Drogba made 381 appearances for Chelsea, scoring 164 times and assisting more than 50 times. he 4 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 3 League Cups and a Champions League, cementing his place as a true legend of the Chelsea Football Club, which is why we have included him in our
best Chelsea XI of all time