From Russia with love: The defining moments of Roman Abramovich’s era at Chelsea

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    The turn of the new year has been particularly hard for Chelsea fans. Having surrendered the title race with some inconsistent results and then losing the League Cup final on penalties to Liverpool at Wembley, further punishment has been inflicted on the Blues after owner Roman Abramovich has put the club up for sale.

    The Russian billionaire, who took over the club in 2003, completely transformed the west London outfit from top to bottom but amid controversy in his country’s invasion of Ukraine, his tenure looks to have come to an abrupt end. Abramovich has always said he has the club in his heart in a statement he made on the club’s official website culminating by saying: “Please know that this has been an incredibly difficult decision to make, and it pains me to part with the Club in this manner. However, I do believe this is in the best interest of the Club.”

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    After almost 20 trophy-laden years in the capital, you wonder whether the money will continue to come in for Chelsea, who are still the current European champions and will surely have no end of suitors willing to bite Abramovich’s hand off for the keys to Stamford Bridge. Let’s look at some of the key moments in the Russian’s time at Chelsea.

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    First transfer window – 2003

    This was the first summer where Chelsea had real money to spend. While they were far from the superpower they are now, the Blues laid the foundations for things to come by making long term investments like Joe Cole, Claude Makélélé and Damien Duff, in a busy window in which they spent £130 million.

    The special one – 2004

    Arguably the most important moment in Chelsea’s history — the arrival of José Mourinho. Labelling himself the ‘Special One’ in his first press conference, Mourinho had just won the Champions League with Porto the previous summer and wasted no time extending his trophy cabinet with Chelsea, winning back-to-back league titles and a League Cup as well as reaching the Champions League semi-final.

    Had it not been for a Luis García ‘ghost goal’, the Blues could have completed a famous treble in the 2004/05 season, in which they would have faced tough competition against that AC Milan side. A game in which either team could be favoured in the Champions League betting.

    The Italian job – 2010

    After Mourinho’s departure, you could argue Chelsea were at something of a crossroads. They had been beaten in their first Champions League final in 2008 — ironically in Moscow — and the squad was in a period of transition. Carlo Ancelotti arrived with a reputation of European success, but it was his work domestically that ensured he will be remembered around Stamford Bridge for years to come. Ancelotti won the club their third league title of Abramovich era in entertaining fashion, getting the best out of Frank Lampard and Nicolas Anelka, whilst bringing in the likes of Fernando Torres and Ramires, who would go on to help the club later down the line.

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    A special night in Munich – 2012

    It took almost a decade but Chelsea finally got their hands on the Champions League in 2012. Having come into the final as massive underdogs, throwing an inexperienced Ryan Bertrand into the starting XI at just 19, which proved to be an unintentional stroke of genius by Roberto Di Matteo as the Blues beat Bayern Munich in their own backyard on penalties. Once again, Didier Drogba was the man for the big occasion, dragging his side back into the game with a bullet header to draw level before scoring the decisive penalty for Chelsea’s first of two Champions League medals — the second arriving under a German manager and finished by a German attacker, as Thomas Tuchel’s men beat Manchester City courtesy of a sole Kai Havertz goal.


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