Chelsea Legends (6) - Eddie Niedzwiecki
Eddie Niedzwiecki, or Steady Eddie as he was affectionately called by the Shed End faithful, was born on the 3rd of May 1959 in Bangor, Wales.
Eddie took up goalkeeping as a youngster, and at just 14 years of age he signed for Wrexham. He went on to make 111 appearances for the club during a six year timespan.
In 1983, Eddie's former manager at Wrexham John Neal decided he needed a new keeper to replace Steve Francis. For a fee of £55,000, hardly enough to pay an average footballers weekly wage in todays crazy world, he signed up the Welsh gem.
Eddie immediately established himself between the sticks, and kept his first clean sheet on debut in a 5-0 thrashing of Derby County!
We would soon go on to top the second division and achieve promotion, and despite playing behind a relatively shaky back four he still managed consistent performances between the sticks.
After a serious knee injury sustained in a match against QPR, Eddie took 8 months to return to full fitness. Sadly he would never be the same after sustaining the damage, and in 1988 his knee gave up on him, forcing him to retire at just 28 years old.
Steady Eddie's Chelsea story does not end here however, as he soon went on to become a goalkeeping coach at our club, providing a fine spell of service until in 2000 when Claudio Ranieri brought several new back room staff to the club.
An indicator of how valued he was occurred, as rumors we're rife that Dennis Wise had led the players in a protest against the move, allegedly getting him temporarily reinstated!
(Whilst Colin Hutchinson would have you believe otherwise, judging by the character of Wisey and the place Eddie held in the hearts of the players and fans, these events are likely to have taken place!)
After his time at Chelsea, Steady Eddie went on to coach at Arsenal, the Welsh National team, Blackburn, and is currently coaching at Manchester City.
Whilst he may not be considered our best ever goalkeeper, he was certainly one of the best, and retains a cult status to this day.
Steady Eddie, we salute you!
Stay tuned in for our next article in our ever continuing Chelsea Legends series, where we will profile the Chelsea career of Roy Bentley.