It was the summer of 2003 and Chelsea had recently acquired the billionaire Roman Abramovich as their owner and the Russian was ready to let his financial firepower lose on the west London club. Abramovich wanted results as soon as possible and wrung in the wholesale changes at Stamford Bridge, giving manager Claudio Ranieri a blank cheque book in order to assist him with his task. Ranieri wasted no time in bringing in a host of new faces however, not every transfer bought success and there were many deals that Chelsea fans will look back on and laugh, Juan Sebastian Veron, Jiri Jarosik and Mateja Kezman are just a few examples of these.
And then there was Adrian Mutu.
In August 2003, Chelsea paid £15.8 million to bring the Parma striker to Stamford Bridge and the Romanian joined Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Hernan Crespo in a star studded Chelsea attack. Mutu’s career started brilliantly with the former Parma man scoring 4 goals in 3 matches including a brace against London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. He also scored a tremendous early season goal (as can be seen below) with a left footed half-volley after the ball rebounded to him from a free kick. Chelsea fans became optimistic that Mutu would become a hit at Stamford Bridge however, his early season run of form did not continue and his performances fizzled out. Mutu ended his first season at Chelsea with just 6 league goals from 25 games.
Things did not improve for the Romanian in his second season as he fell out of favour with new manager Jose Mourinho. Mourinho preferred the Ivorian Didier Drogba supported by Arjen Robben and Damien Duff in a 4-3-3 formation and Mutu found his chances limited. The ex-Parma man did not do himself any favours hitting out at ‘The Special One’, claiming that Mourinho had prevented him from international duty. Mutu stated:
“I am in an open conflict with Mourinho who forbade me to go to my national team and said I was injured. It is not true – I have been in good condition for five days and he knew that”
Things then went bad to worse for the Romanian, as he was acrimoniously sacked by Chelsea in late October 2004 after failing a drugs test a month earlier. Mutu famously tested positive for the use of cocaine and after years of court appeals and hearings has since been ordered to pay Chelsea compensation fees in excess of £14 million for a breach of contract; the highest fine ever implemented by FIFA.
Since leaving Stamford Bridge, Mutu has experienced success in Italy, first with Juventus but most notably with Florence based side Fiorentina. He has become a hit with La Viola and is a key figure in both their league and European campaigns. It is safe to say that his 14 month stint in west London is one that the Romanian would rather forget.
Unfortunately, moments like this goal were not as regular as Chelsea fans would have hoped.