How Chelsea lined up in Roman Abramovich’s first game 19 years ago and where are they now, including Forssell and Geremi

ROMAN ABRAMOVICH’S era as Chelsea owner has finally come to an end following confirmation Todd Boehly has taken over at Stamford Bridge.

It concludes the Russian’s 19-year spell as Blues chief, a reign which has seen them collect five Premier League titles, FA Cups, three League Cups and two Champions Leagues.

This was Chelsea's team for their first match following Roman Abramovich's takeover

This was Chelsea’s team for their first match following Roman Abramovich’s takeover

Chelsea supporters would not have believed the kind of success they were going to have had you told them back in 2003.

However, it is important to remember that the team which Abramovich walked into Stamford Bridge with did secure them fourth place the previous season.

We looked at the team which started the first match of the Abramovich era – a Champions League qualifier against Slovakian side MSK Zilna on August 13, 2003 – as well as where they are now.

GK: Carlo Cudicini

Carlo Cudicini joined Chelsea in 2000 and was first choice at the club until the arrival of Petr Cech

Carlo Cudicini joined Chelsea in 2000 and was first choice at the club until the arrival of Petr CechCredit: AFP

Between the sticks was Carlo Cudicini – a man who would lose his long-standing No1 status the following season to Petr Cech.

Nevertheless, he remained at Chelsea until 2009 before joining Tottenham and then LA Galaxy.

Since retiring, he has returned to Stamford Bridge and is now the club’s technical coach for their plethora of loan players.

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RB: Glen Johnson

Glen Johnson was the first signing of the Abramovich era at Chelsea

Glen Johnson was the first signing of the Abramovich era at ChelseaCredit: Gary Stone – The Sun

Glen Johnson made his debut in this Champions League qualifier after becoming Abramovich’s first ever signing.

He arrived from West Ham for £6million and stayed until 2007 when he joined Portsmouth.

Nowadays he can be seen on BBC and talkSPORT as a pundit, but also has other interests which include a financial investment company and real estate business.

CB: John Terry

John Terry would go on to become one of Chelsea's all-time great players

John Terry would go on to become one of Chelsea’s all-time great playersCredit: PA:Press Association

John Terry, one of Chelsea’s greatest ever players, was vice-captain during the 2003-04 season, before then taking over as skipper and winning five Premier League titles.

After his playing days finished at Aston Villa, he then became assistant coach to manager Dean Smith.

Then at the beginning of 2022 he returned to Chelsea to take up a role as an academy coaching consultant.

CB: Marcel Desailly

World Cup winner Marcel Desailly partnered Terry at the back

World Cup winner Marcel Desailly partnered Terry at the backCredit: Reuters

Marcel Desailly arrived at Chelsea as a World Cup winner with France.

But, then aged 35, he would spend play just one Abramovich season before jetting off to Qatar in 2004.

He retired in 2006 and can now be seen working for beIN SPORTS as a pundit.

LB: Wayne Bridge

Wayne Bridge started brilliantly at Chelsea before serious injuries curtailed his career

Wayne Bridge started brilliantly at Chelsea before serious injuries curtailed his careerCredit: Reuters

Wayne Bridge was another player who arrived at Chelsea just after Abramovich took over.

However, he was often utilised as a back-up left-back during his six years with the Blues, with serious injuries curtailing a promising career.

He also played for Manchester City after leaving Chelsea, before retiring in 2014.

Since then he has been seen on reality TV – competing in both I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here and SAS: Who Dares Wins.

RM: Geremi

Geremi had a decent career as a versatile utility man for Chelsea

Geremi had a decent career as a versatile utility man for ChelseaCredit: Reuters

Geremi was a key figure in Chelsea’s first season under Abramovich.

But he then had to settle for a place as a utility man after Jose Mourinho’s arrival and eventually joined Newcastle in 2007.

He is now on the board of FifPRO where he is attempting to help young African footballers fulfil their potential.

CM: Juan Sebastian Veron

Juan Sebastian Veron arrived at Chelsea at the same time as Joe Cole

Juan Sebastian Veron arrived at Chelsea at the same time as Joe ColeCredit: Getty

Juan Sebastian Veron joined Chelsea with much fanfare after being signed from Manchester United for £15m.

He had struggled at Old Trafford, but Chelsea hoped his former manager Claudio Ranieri could get the best out of him.

However, it did not work out for Veron in west London as he played just 14 times before being loaned out for two seasons to Inter Milan.

He retired in 2014, came back in 2017 to play for Estudiantes, but then hung up his boots again after just five games.

CM: Frank Lampard

Like Terry, Frank Lampard would go on to become of Chelsea's greatest ever players

Like Terry, Frank Lampard would go on to become of Chelsea’s greatest ever playersCredit: PA:Press Association

Frank Lampard is another of the true Chelsea greats who played in this game.

He is their all-time top scorer with 211 goals in 648 appearances and was talismanic in a host of their trophy triumphs.

After retiring, he took over as Chelsea manager in 2019 after a spell at Derby County but struggled to replicate the success he enjoyed as a player and was sacked after 18 months.

He is currently Everton boss and recently narrowly avoided relegation with The Toffees.

LM: Damien Duff

Damien Duff arrived at Chelsea from Blackburn shortly after Abramovich came in

Damien Duff arrived at Chelsea from Blackburn shortly after Abramovich came inCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd

Damien Duff joined Chelsea from Blackburn in the summer of 2003 for £17m.

He scored 19 times in 125 games for the Blues before leaving for Newcastle in 2006.

Since retiring, he has been a coach at Shamrock Rovers, Celtic and for the Ireland national team.

He was then appointed the manager of League of Ireland Premier Division side Sherbourne FC in November – a role he still currently holds.

ST: Eidur Gudjohnsen

Eidur Gudjohnson scored the first goal of the Abramovich era

Eidur Gudjohnson scored the first goal of the Abramovich eraCredit: Reuters

Icelandic striker Eidur Gudjohnson scored the first goal of the Abramovich era as Chelsea won the game 2-0.

He netted 78 times in 268 appearances for the Blues before joining Barcelona in 2006 – where he would go on to win the Champions League.

Gudjohnsen was recently the Iceland national team’s assistant coach, but left the role in 2021.

ST: Mikael Forssell

Mikeael Forssell barely played for Chelsea despite spending seven years on their books

Mikeael Forssell barely played for Chelsea despite spending seven years on their booksCredit: Action Images – Reuters

A very surprising name for this game and when it comes to the list of Chelsea strikers under Abramovich.

Despite being a Blues player for seven years, several loan spells and unfortunate injuries meant he only made 53 appearances for the club – scoring 12 goals.

He retired in 2018 and now works as an academy coach for Finnish outfit HJK.

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