Chelsea Football Club was founded in 1905, and in the 118 years of its existence, it has grown to become one of the most successful English clubs and a dominant force in world football. So, it’s impossible to leave out the legendary players that have worn the club’s badge without any attention.
These legends, some known for their immense footballing abilities and others for their loyalty to the club, played major roles in creating the winning identity synonymous with Chelsea today. We’ve compiled a list of the greatest players in Chelsea’s history and have ranked them based on their abilities and contribution to the club.
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The Greatest Players in Chelsea’s History
Over the years, many amazing players have put on the famous blue and white shirt of the Stamford Bridge outfit. Here are the greatest players to have played for Chelsea in no particular order. While their accomplishments on the football field are legendary, it’s worth noting that their love for the sport transcends boundaries, and some of them have shown a keen interest in activities like horse racing, further adding to their multifaceted sporting passions.
Having already gathered Premier League experience at West Ham, Lampard easily slotted into Chelsea’s first team and amassed over 34 league appearances in his first season, scoring five goals. From there on, Lampard’s Chelsea story was nothing but immaculate.
In his 14 years at Stamford Bridge, Lampard became the club’s all-time leading goalscorer with 211 goals in all competitions. He also amassed 648 appearances for the club, only behind fellow Englishmen John Terry, Peter Bonetti, and Ron Harris. Frank Lampard is widely regarded as one of the greatest midfielders in football’s history and undoubtedly the greatest player in Chelsea’s history.
John Terry is Chelsea’s most successful academy graduate, captain, and one of the greatest defenders of his generation. Terry broke into the Chelsea first team at 18, making his first appearance in a 1998 League Cup game against Aston Villa. However, he struggled to find form and was loaned to Nottingham Forest in 2000 to build experience.
Terry returned to Chelsea the following season, and his impact on the team was immediate. He became the youngest player ever to captain a Chelsea side and appeared in over 25 games that season. He officially became captain in the 2004-2005 season after being appointed by José Mourinho and went on to captain the side for over 500 games until his departure in 2017.
In his 19 years at Chelsea, Terry amassed 717 appearances, one of only three players to have made over 700 appearances for the club. He also captained the side to five Premier League titles, one UEFA Champions League title, four FA Cups, three League Cups, and one UEFA Europa League title.
An academy graduate, Harris made his professional debut for Chelsea in a 1-0 win against Sheffield Wednesday in 1962. In less than a year, he established himself as a reckoning force in the club’s backline and became a vital part of Chelsea’s squad for 18 years.
An excellent leader and unapologetic tackler, Ron Harris made an amazing 795 professional appearances for Chelsea, the most in the club’s history, and captained them to their first major European honour in 1971. Ron Harris’s immense performance in the 1970 FA Cup final is widely regarded as one of the greatest by a centre-back, and he will be forever remembered as a Chelsea legend.
Zola’s time at Chelsea was filled with so many iconic moments and great memories that it’s almost impossible to pick one. In his seven years with the Blues, he was awarded the Player of the Year award twice and is regarded by many as the most talented player to ever grace the club.
He moved to Chelsea from Parma in 1996, a major coup for the club at the time, and quickly became a fan favourite due to his skills, creativity, and flair. He etched his name in the club’s history after scoring the winner in the 1998 European Cup Winners’ Cup final just seconds after coming on as a substitute. Overall, he made 318 appearances for Chelsea, scoring 80 goals and winning two FA cups, the UEFA Super Cup, one League Cup, and the Community Shield.
Drogba’s £24 million move to Chelsea in 2004 was met with massive scepticism from fans and pundits. The Ivorian striker was relatively unknown at the time, and there were doubts about whether he could adapt to the pressure of the league.
These doubts didn’t last long as he quickly proved his worth to the team, scoring 16 goals in his debut season, with ten being in the Premier League, helping Chelsea to their first league title in 50 years. He scored 12 goals the following season to secure the league again and went on to net 157 goals in 341 appearances in his first spell at the club.
However, his most iconic moment came in 2012, when he pulled off an all-timer performance to help Chelsea secure their first-ever Champions League title. Drogba is one of the club’s most influential players and played a significant role in increasing Chelsea’s popularity in Africa. He’s Chelsea’s fourth all-time highest scorer and won 14 major honours with the club, scoring nine goals in nine final appearances.
In 2012, Eden Hazard iconically announced on Twitter that he would be joining the Champions League winners, Chelsea, at the time. Coming off an impressive season in France with Lille, Hazard was the most coveted young player in the world and was praised for his flair, dribbling, and finishing skills.
In his seven years at Chelsea, he became one of the best players in the world and received regular acclaim from the footballing community. Hazard won the Chelsea Player of the Year award a record four times, won two Premier League titles, two UEFA Europa League titles, a single FA Cup, and a League Cup trophy.
His presence on the pitch was always felt, and his ability to create magical moments made him a fan favourite and legend. He scored the only goal in the 2018 FA Cup final win over Manchester United and a brace in his final game for the club, where Chelsea dismantled rivals Arsenal in a 4-1 win in the UEFA Europa League final.
In his 11 years at Chelsea, Peter Cech established himself as arguably the best goalkeeper in Chelsea’s history and one of the best in the world. His incredible shot-stopping abilities and powerful presence in the penalty area influenced Chelsea’s success in the early Roman Abramovich era.
Cech made a total of 494 appearances for the club, keeping 162 clean sheets, the most in the club’s history. He also won every possible honour with Chelsea and played a decisive role in the club’s first UCL trophy by saving Arjen Robben’s extra-time penalty and also saving two in the ensuing shoot-out.
He holds the record for the most clean sheets in Premier League history and won four Premier League titles, four FA cups, three League Cups, and a UEFA Champions League in his time at Stamford Bridge. While his achievements on the pitch are unquestionable, his success has also attracted the attention of sports betting enthusiasts who eagerly wager on matches involving his former team.
The Bottom Line
There you have it! The greatest players in the history of Chelsea Football Club. These legends were picked for their immense footballing abilities and contributions to the club. Football fans know that players will come and go, but legends like the ones listed above will always stay in the history of Chelsea!