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Villas-Boas adds amusing new detail to Chelsea’s legendary gazumping of Spurs for Willian in 2013

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Daniel Levy won’t like this

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Chelsea’s New Signing Willian - Cobham Training Ground Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Willian’s transfer to Chelsea from Anzhi Makhachkala in 2013 is the stuff of football legend, with songs and stories and plenty of interviews over the years fleshing out the details of a most amusing gazumping. (Which remains most amusing even if Willian’s now with Arsenal.)

Spurs, they bought his flight. Conducted a medical. Drew up the contract. And then Willian signed with Chelsea, which was evidently always his goal but we were a bit slow in getting our act together.

Willian has re-told this familiar story many times as well, including the part where he was “stuck” at Spurs training ground for eight hours, before finally getting to leave, at which point he huffed it across town post-haste to sign with the Blues.

So what did he do for those eight hours? Well, as André Villas-Boas tells it, they spent at least part of that time watching a Champions League match together. (An often overlooked facet of this story is that former Chelsea boss AVB was the Spurs manager at the time, and lost out to former mentor and idol Mourinho!)

“I think that Daniel Levy won’t appreciate it too much, but we had Willian in our office at Spurs, watching the Champions League game together, before he left the room and signed for Chelsea that night.”

-André Villas-Boas; source: COPA90

The day must’ve been Wednesday, August 21, since Spurs had a match the following day in the Europa League, in which they beat Dinamo Tbilisi, 5-0, but during which Chelsea were already starting to finalize the transfer (which wouldn’t be announced for another week or so, in part due to work-permit issues). The idea of Willian watching Champions League at Spurs HQ, then signing with Chelsea a few hours later to actually play in the Champions League is quite delicious indeed.

AVB was speaking to COPA90 in a virtual manager masterclass to celebrate the biggest update of EA SPORTS FIFA 21’s Career Mode in 10 years...

I’m required to include that line in exchange for using the quotes — I haven’t played FIFA since RTWC 98 (cue Blur’s Song 2), but it sounds like they’re trying to add a “Football Manager” mode though in that case why not just play the far superior Football Manager series, but I digress — though the accompanying video is actually not terrible, and it features a few other familiar faces, including former Chelsea coaches Antonio Conte and Brendan Rodgers, as well as Zinedine Zidane and Chris Wilder. Conte and Wilder are especially cool to listen to, as usual, with the former even getting to talk a bit about Victor Moses’ positional change and both of them putting their team-first ethos front and center. AVB mentioning how he had to become more flexible in his ideas after his Chelsea experience is quite telling as well.

In any case, do check it out, it’s only about 10 minutes long, which even the youth of today should be able to handle, right?

EA SPORTS FIFA 21 and COPA90 linked Timbsy up with Zinedine Zidane, Antonio Conte, Andre Villas-Boas, Brendan Rodgers and Chris Wilder for a Virtual Manager Masterclass to celebrate the biggest update of Career Mode in 10 years.