The Players That Link Chelsea & Atletico Madrid
Next game for Chelsea
Next up for Chelsea is trip to Spain where they take on their nemesis Atletico Madrid in the new Wanda Metropolitano stadium. It will be the stadiums` first taste of Champions League football. The two clubs have quite a recent history regarding players who have appeared for both clubs.
Thibaut Courtois, who Chelsea bought from Genk in 2011, had a three year loan spell with Diego Simeone`s side before being recalled by then manager Jose Mourinho prior to the start of the 2014-2015 season. Mourinho opted to oust Petr Cech in favour of the Belgian shot stopper as the Blues no.1 between the sticks.
Then there was Filipe Luis, the Brazilian wing-back, who Chelsea signed from Atletico for £15.8m in the summer of 2014 on a three year deal. He lasted just one season at Stamford Bridge. He took Ashley Cole's number three shirt and played just 26 games, scoring one goal. He never really settled in London or maybe he was never really given a chance but he returned to Madrid the following season.
Fernando Torres signed for Chelsea from Liverpool with a price tag in the region of £50m, becoming the most expensive player in Premier League history. Despite a media witch hunt that was desperate to see him fail, his time at Chelsea was more successful than at Liverpool. Nando picked up a Champions League winners medal and was also on the winning side in the Europa League, the Premier League and the FA Cup final. His time at Liverpool resulted in no trophies. To this day, Torres was deemed a failure, but he played more games at Chelsea and won more silverware. The media darlings and Liverpool fans just couldn`t accept their beloved Nando going elsewhere.
Further back in time, and another popular striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was signed from Madrid in 2000, when Gianluca Vialli was the manager at Chelsea. The Dutchman arrived off the back of a prolific season with Atletico, scoring 33 times in 43 appearances. For the club itself, under the management of Claudio Ranieri, the season ended poorly when then were relegated from La Liga. Hasselbaink had a clause in his contract that allowed him to leave should that happen. He duly exercised it, and was signed for £15m. Like Torres before him, he was a club and league record signing when he arrived. In a strange turn of events, Vialli was sacked in the September following the striker's arrival, to be replaced by Jimmy`s old boss at Madrid, Ranieri.
Other notable players to have shared the shirt are Radamel Falcao, who had two years at Madrid and an unsuccessful year on loan at Chelsea. To be fair, though he came to Chelsea from another disastrous loan at Manchester United and was never really match fit.
Jesper Gronkjaer is a cult hero figure at Stamford Bridge. Without him, Chelsea`s recent years of success may never have happened. He joined the club in 2000 from Ajax and was a winger, who could play either side. The Danish international`s big moment came on the final day of the 2002-03 season.
Chelsea and Liverpool were in contention for the crucial 4th place in the Premier League. The two met at Stamford Bridge, both tied on 64 points. Chelsea`s goal difference was vastly superior to that of Liverpool, so a draw for Chelsea would be enough, Liverpool had to win.
Liverpool led with a 10th minute goal by Sami Hyypia, the lead was short lived though, Gronkjaer set up Marcel Desailly for the equaliser 3 minutes later and bagged the winner midway through the first half. Chelsea won 2-1 and with it qualified for the Champions League. Towards the end of the game, Steven Gerrard picked up two yellow cards in quick succession as his Liverpool team missed out again.
That Gronkjaer goal became known as the 'billion pound goal` as it is believed the Champions League qualification, convinced a certain Roman Abramovich to invest in Chelsea FC. The rest, as they say, is history.
Gronkjaer found himself at Madrid a year after he left Chelsea and via Birmingham City, but he just couldn`t settle in Spain. He played just 16 games before ending his career in 5 year spell at Copenhagen.
Other co-club players were Mateja Kezman, Maniche and Tiago Mendes. There is of course one more notable absentee, who will no doubt be in the stadium on Wednesday night. Diego Costa has had more column inches written about him in recent months than most footballers get in lifetime, so he`ll get no more here.
But there are certainly so e great players to have competed for Atletico Madrid and Chelsea through the years, but none more controversial than Brazilian-born Spaniard.