Derek Smethurst was the very first African to play for Chelsea when he joined them in the 70s, but it has only been in the last decade or so that Chelsea have had some of the most talented African footballers in their team. Who were some of the African footballing legends to wear the blue shirt of Chelsea? Well, below we are going to take a look at the best African footballers that have called Stamford Bridge home.
John Obi Mikel
Mikel joined Chelsea in 2006 for a fee of £16 million. In today’s market, that does not seem like an awful lot of money, but it was a considerable sum to pay back then. He went on to have a very successful time at Chelsea, helping them to win two Premier League trophies, three FA Cup trophies, one Champions League title, and one Europa League title. He stayed at Chelsea for 11 years, making close to 250 appearances for the club. On the road to Europa League glory in 2013, he scored four goals for Chelsea. To add to all his achievements with Chelsea, he was also in the 2013 Nigerian team that won the AFCON trophy that year. In 2016, he helped Nigeria to the bronze medal at the Olympics.
It is fair to say that he is treated like a bit of a celebrity when he goes back home to Nigeria to visit his family. Nigerians are mad about football, nearly as mad about it as the Indians are about their cricket. Nigerians are highly patriotic, so they will happily support any Nigerian that is making it big in the footballing world. As well as watching football, Nigerians love to bet on it. If you are Nigerian and are looking for a quality place to bet on football, check out https://www.sport-betting.ng/betting-sites/ as here you can find the best football betting sites for Nigerians as well as some fantastic football betting tips.
Weah, who is now the President of Liberia, was coming to the end of his career when he signed for Chelsea on loan from Milan in 2000. He went on to make 15 appearances for Chelsea and scored 5 goals, helping them to lift the FA Cup in the process. However, what he will most be remembered for is scoring the winning goal against Tottenham Hotspur just 30 minutes into his debut. The feat endeared him to Chelsea fans for life. Although he only scored 5 goals for Chelsea, there is no doubt that he was a very talented footballer. In a career spanning 413 matches, he netted 194 times.
Many football fans around the world believe Eto’o was one of the best African footballers to grace the field, and we are certainly not going to disagree. He signed a one-year contract for Chelsea in 2013 for an undisclosed fee and he went on to make 21 appearances for the Blues, scoring 11 goals in the process. He played a very important role in helping Chelsea to reach the semi-final of the Champions League where they were knocked out by Atletico Madrid. Although he was probably past his peak when he signed for Chelsea, his career record more than speaks for itself. He played 587 club matches and scored 293 goals, so it is not hard why many consider him to be the best African player ever. He also played 118 times for his country and scored 56 goals.
The Cameroon international might not have had the swagger that other African players had, but that is not to say that he was not a very important player for Chelsea during his time there. He signed for Chelsea in 2003 from Real Madrid for a fee of £6.9 million, and he went on to become a very versatile player for the Blues, playing at right-back, on the wings, or in central midfield. He did not always get the appreciation that he deserved from the fans, but his teammates loved the hard work that he always put in. His time at Chelsea was very successful as during his four years at Stamford Bridge he won the League Cup two times, the FA Cup once, and was part of Mourinho’s team that won the Premier League in 2005 and 2006.
The Ivorian international joined Chelsea in 2006 for a fee believed to be £9 million, and he went on to have a glorious career at Stamford Bridge. He won the Premier League with Chelsea in 2010, he won the FA Cup with them four times, the League Cup and the Community Shield once, and he topped it all off by winning the Champions League in 2012. He had to compete for playing time with the likes of Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba, so he was often used as an impact player and that he definitely made an impact more often than not. During the 2006-07 season, Chelsea were trailing local rivals Spurs 3-1 in the FA Cup, but Kalou came off the bench and earned his team a replay by scoring in the 87th minute. They won the replay 2-1 and eventually lifted the trophy.
It is not an overstatement to say that no other player from Africa has ever had the same impact on the English Premier League that Didier Drogba did. He signed for Chelsea in 2004 for a fee of £24 million, and during the next eight seasons he helped Chelsea to win the Premier League title four times, the FA Cup trophy four times, the League Cup three times, two community shields, and one Champions League. In 2012, he was voted as Chelsea’s greatest player. During his time at Stamford Bridge, he scored 104 goals in 254 matches. He played for the Ivory Coast 105 times and netted an impressive 65 goals.