When: Friday, May 18, 19:45 GMT
Where: Stamford Bridge, SW6
How: 80-min match, penalty shootout if it ends in a draw
Tickets: available until 4pm in person
Watch: ChelseaTV (on television and online), Facebook
Supporting: Chelsea Foundation (who will make a donation to Crohn’s & Colitis UK)
In memory of: Ray Wilkins
Twenty years ago this week, in Stockholm, Sweden, Chelsea won the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, beating VfB Stuttgart, who were guided future World Cup-winner Joachim Löw in one of his first jobs in management at the time and featured the likes of Zvonimor Soldo, Krasimir Balakov, Fredi Bobic, and even a promising young Hungarian named Krisztián Lisztes, who, like his home nation, never quite lived up to that early promise. But I digress.
Chelsea, who had already won the League Cup a few months prior, weren’t short of big names either by this time in our history that we ain’t got, with a veritable who’s who of legends and heroes playing (and two, Frank Sinclair and Graeme Le Saux, missing via injury). Both Sinclair and Le Saux (both pundits these days) will be back at the Bridge tonight to celebrate and have a good time and also support a charity in Ray Wilkins’ name and honor.
From the matchday squad on that May 13, 1998, joining Sinclair and Le Saux will be fellow defenders Leboeuf and Petrescu, captain Dennis Wise, player-manager Gianluca Vialli, future Champions League-winning manager Roberto Di Matteo, current Chelsea coaches Jody Morris and Tore Andre Flo, and of course the goalscorer himself, Gianfranco Zola. Eddie Newton and Andy Myers apparently will not be suiting up, perhaps busy with their current tasks at the club.
Since that’s not quite enough to field a team, another set of legends and heroes from down the years are set to play tonight, including the player who made me a Chelsea fan in the first place, Marcel Desailly. There will be plenty of oohs and ahhs, surely, with the likes of Essien, Ballack, Gallas, Shevchenko, Cudicini, and Gudjohnsen gracing the pitch once again.
As per the Chelsea website, here’s the confirmed squad for Chelsea Legends:
GOALKEEPERS: Carlo Cudicini, Hilário
DEFENDERS: Marcel Desailly, Frank Leboef, William Gallas (making nice with the player who left under such acrimonious circumstances!), Frank Sinclair, Dan Petrescu, Celestine Babayaro, Graeme Le Saux, Juliano Belletti, Danny Granville
MIDFIELDERS (oh my): Dennis Wise, Jody Morris, Roberto Di Matteo, Michael Essien, Michael Ballack
ZOLA: Gianfranco Zola
FORWARDS: Gianluca Vialli, Tore Andre Flo, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Andriy Shevchenko, Pierluigi Casiraghi
And then maybe Hernan Crespo will switch shirts at half?
For facing Chelsea Legends tonight will be another set of big names from the blue half of Milano
The traveling squad for Inter Forever, who will also play Norwich City in a couple days, is as follows:
GOALKEEPERS: Francesco Toldo, Sebastien Frey
DEFENDERS (oh my): Guiseppe Bergomi, Javier Zanetti, Guiseppe Baresi (yes, the older one, still kicking it at 60!), Massimo Paganin, Marco Materazzi, Walter Samuel, Christian Chivu, Mikaël Silvestre, Francesco Colonnese
MIDFIELDERS: Esteban Cambiasso, Alessandro Bianchi, Nicola Berti, Giorgos Karagounis, Olivier Dacourt, Ousmane Dabo, Houssine Kharja
FORWARDS: Youri Djorkaeff, Hernan Crespo, Jürgen Klinsmann, David Suazo
Should be a fun time!