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Glen Johnson, the first signing of the Abramovich Era at Chelsea has retired

The 34-year-old right back has called time on his playing career

Glen Johnson of Chelsea
Glen sporting that lovely away number from 2003-04
Photo by Ben Radford/Getty Images

My enduring memory of Glen Johnson is him scoring a very annoying late winner for Liverpool at Stamford Bridge back in late 2011, but before he pulled on the Reds shirt a couple hundred times, and before he pulled on the Pompey shirt on a century of occasions as well, he featured in a Chelsea shirt for a few seasons as well. But that’s not why his retirement, announced on Monday, was worthy of a news item on the Chelsea official website.

As it turns out, in 2003, 15.5 years ago, Glen Johnson was the first official signing of the Roman Abramovich Era at Chelsea Football Club.

Johnson, just 18 at the time, wasn’t the first signing of that summer’s transfer window (that was backup goalkeeper Jürgen Macho, agreed in May, on a free from Sunderland) and neither was he the second (that was another goalkeeper in Marco Ambrosio, agreed in June, on a free from Chievo), but both of those transfers went through on July 1, mere hours before Ken Bates signed off on the sale that would change not only the club but the rest of the Premier League, and thus football history itself.

Johnson’s signing, for a mere £6m was quickly lost in the shuffle as more expensive names in Geremi, Wayne Bridge, Damien Duff, Joe Cole, Juan Verón, Adrian Mutu, Alexey Smertin, Hernán Crespo, Claude Makélélé, and Scott Parker followed before the end of August. And while Johnson held his own that first season, despite still being a teenager, once the second round of shopping (which included a certain Paulo Ferreira) was complete, now with Mourinho at the helm in 2004, he also became one of the first young players to feel the harsh reality of Chelsea’s transfer policy. After 61 appearances for the club before his 21st birthday, he’d make just 11 more before leaving for good in 2007.

After stops at Portsmouth and Liverpool, the West Ham Academy product had been without a team since Stoke City released him upon their relegation from the Premier League at the end of last season. The 34-year-old retires with 1 Premier League title (Chelsea 2004-05), 2 League Cup titles (Chelsea 2004-05, Liverpool 2011-12), and 1 FA Cup (Portsmouth 2007-08) to his name.

Here’s to you then, Glen Johnson, for making Chelsea history. Best of luck in your future endeavors!

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