In June 2003, Roman Abramovich’s arrival as Chelsea’s billionaire owner signalled a new era for English football.
Chelsea had just finished the 2002/03 Premier League season in fourth, 16 points behind champions Manchester United.
This, Abramovich felt, was nowhere near good enough. With his remarkably deep pockets, the Russian embarked on an ambitious, aggressive overhaul of Chelsea in an attempt to establish the Blues as a European heavyweight.
Seventeen years and 16 trophies later, it is fair to say that he has been successful. And on Sunday, Abramovich will celebrate 1000 games as Chelsea owner.
So here, as Blues boss Frank Lampard plots how to mark the occasion with three points against Tottenham Hotspur, we look back at the oligarch’s 10 most iconic moments at Stamford Bridge.
(Image: Press Association)
Summer splurge in ‘03
Abramovich wasted little time in pouring money into his Chelsea revamp as he bankrolled one of the most aggressive recruitment drives in history, spending comfortably in excess of £100 million to ignite the club’s title ambitions.
In came big names including Claude Makelele, Hernan Crespo, Adrian Mutu, Juan Sebastian Veron, and Damien Duff with Gianfranco Zola and Graeme Le Saux among those to depart.
With a fleet of new signings, manager Claudio Ranieri was tasked with landing the Premier League title, but while there was a marked increase from the previous season, the Blues missed out as Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ finished 11 points better off.
Mourinho appointment No.1
Ranieri also led Chelsea to the Champions League semi-final during Abramovich’s first year, but that was not enough to save the Italian as the owner went out and secured Europe’s hottest managerial prospect: Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho was, of course, fresh off leading Porto to an unlikely Champions League triumph with Abramovich viewing the cocky young Portuguese tactician as…