Without our favourite Uncle Roman, the past 10 years of Chelsea's existence would probably have been a bleak and bitter time for us, and, let's face it, most of us probably wouldn't be Chelsea fans at all. It's no secret that the rise of Roman's Chelsea has swelled the ranks of Blues at home and around the world. Unfortunately, that rise and the fans it brought have increased the animosity towards Chelsea from the rest of the football world and some traditional Chelsea fans. By-and-large, though, Roman's reign has been nothing short of a triumph for the club. His takeover led to our first League title in half-a-century and two more to follow, two League Cups, four FA Cups, the Europa League, and, perhaps most-importantly, the Champions League trophy he was said to "crave."
Beyond simply the increased presence in the football market and the trophies, Roman has brought something more intangible to the club. If you're younger than 20 or 25, it can be hard to comprehend where Chelsea were before the Russian acquired the club. While they had found some manner of success in the decade prior, we were still an upper-mid-table club, well-behind the traditional powers in England. Unfortunately, it had been at the cost of a large of amount debt. So large, in fact, that they threatened to bring down the club from within. The debt problems were probably never bad enough to put the club in serious danger of extinction, but a collapse of the type experienced by old rival Leeds isn't unimaginable.
Instead of a decade of mid-table-or-lower mediocrity and pain, Roman Abramovich, at-the-time newly-enamoured with the game, stepped in to relieve our debt problems and secure our position. For that alone, he deserves all the respect we can muster, but he went even further. He aspired to remake the club from the ground up and turn it into a world power. Ten years on, where are we in that respect? Pretty well, I'd say. In ten years, and with more-than-£700m spent on players' transfer fees alone, Roman has dragged Chelsea from the edge of ruin to the edge of true greatness.
In the past decade, we've become a perennial force in the Premier League and in Europe, despite a dip in form the past two seasons. We've managed to win every major trophy available to us, and have become just the fourth team to win all three major UEFA trophies, alongside Juventus, Ajax, and Bayern Munich, themselves giants of world football. Beyond just sporting achievements, our recent success has put us firmly in the the category of childhood clubs for young players around the globe.
That development alone is worth more than all the money Abramovich has spent on his rebuilding project. There aren't many clubs in the world for which most kids would love to play --I can't imagine there's a huge group of kids dreaming of Espanyol, for example -- but Chelsea is increasingly finding itself in lists of such clubs. If anything will permanently-cement our place in the world'd football elite, it's that the number of young players who've ever known that not to be true dwindles every day. Our own Romelu Lukaku, who was a Chelsea fan even before joining, was just 10-years-old when Roman bought the club. For half his life, the Blues have been an elite team.
That's why we're instituting Roman Appreciation Week. He's the man to whom we owe everything as Chelsea fans, and his 10-year anniversary is as good a time as any to celebrate him. This week, we'll have a bunch of great content for you celebrating the Russian's time in charge, before pre-season officially-begins next week.
We also want you to get involved. If you're so inclined, write a FanPost on the topic of what Roman has meant to you over these past 10 years, and we'll post a few of the best on the front page at the weekend. You have until Friday [5 July 2013] to have your submission written, and the title of your piece should contain "WAGNHRAW" or "Roman Appreciation Week."
I hope you all enjoy the celebrations this week!