Chelsea have boasted some great British talent since they were founded in 1905 even though they are not always recognised for it, especially during the 1990s when the club had many foreign players treading the turf at Stamford Bridge.
In this article I will highlight who I think is Chelsea’s greatest British XI of all time and I have decided to opt for a 4-3-3 formation:
Bonetti, nicknamed ‘The Cat’ because of his quick reflexes, agility and grace is Chelsea’s second highest appearance maker of all time playing 729 times for the club. The former England goalkeeper will be best remembered by Chelsea fans for his part in the FA Cup run in 1970 which saw the Blues win England’s most prestigious domestic cup for the first time against Leeds United. He also played between the sticks when the Stamford Bridge club beat Real Madrid, Europe’s most decorated club, in the 1971 European Cup Winners’ Cup after a replay at the Karaiskakis Stadium, Athens.
The Scot became a crucial part of the Chelsea defence for over a decade at the club and was blessed with great timing and pace. One of his most memorable moments would have been his goal in the 1965 League Cup final when he dribbled 80 yards and finished by slotting the ball past Leicester City’s Gordon Banks, who was probably the best goalkeeper in the world at the time. His goal proved vital as it proved to be the winner after the two legs were played out. McCreadie was also part of the 1970 FA Cup winning side and later managed Chelsea after his retirement.
The former England skipper currently wears the armband for the Blues and his their most successful captain ever after lifting three Premier League titles, three FA Cups as captain (four in total), twice winner of the league cup and has also won the FA Community Shield on two occasions. Affectionately known as ‘JT’ he first moved to Stamford Bridge at the age of 14 and is that last major talent that has come through the Blues’ ranks to make it in the first XI. Terry represents the final bastion of the old English centre-half and often fearlessly puts his head where most wouldn’t dare, but that’s his game and the reason why there is a banner draped over a hoarding at the Matthew Harding stand which reads ‘JT. Captain. Leader. Legend.’
Chelsea’s record appearance maker with 795 games certainly lived up to his nickname during his career at the club in the 1960s and 1970s. Chopper was one of the toughest defenders of his day and as Blues’ skipper became the youngest captain at 22-years-old to lead a side out into an FA Cup final (1967), a competition he eventually won just three years later. He would never get away with his unforgiving physical style today, but his hard challenge on Eddie Gray eight minutes into the FA Cup final in 1970 left the Leeds man as a passenger for the rest of the game, which proved vital as he was one of their biggest threats.
Most of Chelsea’s younger fans would mostly recognise Steve Clarke for his work as Jose Mourinho’s and Avram Grant’s assistant manager, but to most he will always go down as one of the best right-backs the club have had and was voted as the best Chelsea player to occupy that position in the club’s centernary XI. Clarke made 421 appearances in a Chelsea shirt and had won a few honours during his time at the club including the Full Members Cup (1990), FA Cup (1997), League cup (1998), with his final performance for the club coming in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup final in 1998 against Stuttgart. Clarke was always reliable, even at a time when the team were struggling in the league during the early days of Glenn Hoddle’s tenure which is just one of the reasons he deserves to be in this list.
The skilful left-winger was signed from Dundee FC by Tommy Docherty for £72,000 in 1966 as part of the restructuring of the Chelsea side replacing Terry Venables, who moved to London rivals Tottenham. Cooke was a star in a flamboyant but unpredictable Chelsea side and became a bane for many defenders, including England World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore who Cooke waltzed past on his league debut against West Ham before scoring Chelsea’s winner. In his two spells at Stamford Bridge Cooke made 373 appearances and scored 30 goals for the club.
If Cooke represents the flamboyant and skilful aspect to this Chelsea British XI, then Wisey definitely represents the aggressive and competitive aspect which is important to many teams. Wise was the club’s most successful captain before JT came along winning two FA Cups (1997 and 2000), FA Charity Shield (2000), League Cup (1998), UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (1998) and the UEFA Super Cup (1998). Wise made 445 appearances for Chelsea and scored 76 goals, the most famous being at the San Siro against AC Milan with 10 minutes to go during a Champions League fixture in 1999. Wise’s famous goal is still sung about at Stamford Bridge to this day.
Many thought after Roman Abramovich took over the Stamford Bridge club in June 2003 players like Lampard would fade into the distance as the club spent vast fortunes on new players. But Lampard has grown as a player since then and 157 goals for Chelsea from midfield during the club’s most successful period in its history easily makes him an absolute shoo-in for this list. The England midfielder is currently third a list of the Blues all-time goal scorers and has also laid on 94 assists for team-mates during his time at the club. Lampard has been The Blues’ Mr Consistent for the club scoring 20+ goals a season five consecutive years and played a record 164 consecutive Premier League appearances.
Dixon was blessed with great aerial ability as well as being able to use both feet, which is why he was so successful at Chelsea and scored a fantastic 193 goals for Chelsea making him their second highest goal scorer of all time, as well as being 7th in their all-time appearance list. Whilst at Stamford Bridge the forward enjoyed a good relationship with fellow striker David Speedie (despite an initial personality clash) and winger Pat Nevin, the trio scored over 200 hundred goals between them (1983-1986).
The late Chelsea striker will always be a legend amongst the Stamford Bridge faithful who sign “Osgood, Osgood. Osgood, Osgood, always the king of Stamford Bridge.” Osgood made 150 appearances for the Blues in 380 appearances and famously scored in every round of the 1970 FA Cup run, as well as one in each of the games against Real Madrid European Cup Winners’ Cup final in 1971. Ossie was arguably the biggest celebrity during his time at Chelsea when the club were not the most successful, but he epitomised England’s most fashionable and glamorous outfit. “Osgood is good,” as the fans on the Stamford Bridge terraces used to chant during his days there and that makes him an obvious choice for this list.
Couldn’t really do a Chelsea’s all-time British XI without putting their record ever goal scorer in the team, could I? After the departure of one prolific forward in Jimmy Greaves, for AC Milan the Sussex-born Tambling became Chelsea’s primary goal threat and scored 202 goals in the club’s colours. Despite scoring so many goals for the club it is a shame that he only managed to win one trophy during his time at the club, the League Cup in 1965, but it was an exciting season as Chelsea were challenging for a domestic treble.
These lists are obviously always open for debate, so who do you think should make Chelsea’s all-time British XI?