Ashley Cole was a 2006 summer deadline day signing from Arsenal, to whom we paid £5 million plus William Gallas, and he made his debut against Werder Bremen in September that year.
A fabulous athlete who loves to go forward, he admitted at that season's end that Blues fans had yet to see him at his very best, a series of injures having hindered the settling process. Competition with Wayne Bridge for the left-back slot had ended with a roughly even share of games.
An ankle operation in the summer cleared the way for an uninhibited start to the 2007/08 campaign and with Bridge injured, Ashley got off to a flyer and enjoyed the lion's share of matches that season, particularly for the big encounters.
His first Chelsea goal was lashed in away at West Ham in March 2008 during a 4-0 win, and after surviving an injury scare in training on the eve of the Champions League Final, he recovered to put in one of the best displays on the night, including a successful shoot-out penalty.
In 2008/09 under Luiz Felipe Scolari, Ashley was utilised far more in attack, but with the arrival of Guus Hiddink, the full-back had his wings clipped, focusing more on defence, a tactic that paid off with a number of clean sheets.
Voted Players' Player of the Year at the end of 2008/09, Ashley had put previous injury concerns behind him to turn in a personal record number of club appearances in a season (49).
He won the FA Cup against Everton in 2009, a feat repeated in May 2010 against Portsmouth when he entered the record books as the only man to win six FA Cups, three with Chelsea in 2007, 2009 and 2010, and three with Arsenal.
The latest came at the end of another season of unfaltering consistency for arguably the best left-back in the world, his sixth FA Cup joined by his second Double, along with Nicolas Anelka the first man to do so with two different clubs.
On a personal level, he scored a record four times in the same season, including the Chelsea Goal of the Season against Sunderland in January, a deft flick after controlling John Terry's long pass expertly and cutting inside his man.
He supplied goals against Stoke and Tottenham, while finding the scoresheet in explosive fashion against Burnley, and then Spurs, before twice claiming assists at former club Arsenal in November 2009.
After fracturing his ankle in a challenge with Everton's Landon Donovan in Februrary, dedication and a fast-healing body helped him back before the end of April for the 7-0 win against Stoke, and he found the net one more time against Wigan on the final day of the league season.
For the first time in his career, 2010/11 saw him end the campaign as a Premier League ever-present, having started all 38 league matches. It was a figure that helped him over the 200-game mark for Chelsea, and for the second time in his Stamford Bridge career he ended the season as Players' Player of the Year, and returned into the PFA's representative XI, the only Chelsea man in the side, as well as Uefa's Team of the Year for 2010.
Cole only missed his first league game in the following campaign in early February. At 31, however, he found himself rested more often than in the past as the 2011/12 season reached its dramatic climax, a move which enabled Ryan Bertrand to gain some invaluable first team experience.
Cole was outstanding in the Champions League ties against Napoli and Barcelona. He made a stunning clearance off the line in Naples and again at home to the then-European Champions the following month, while marshalling the defence impeccably in the Camp Nou following the sending off of John Terry and injury to Gary Cahill.
After winning his seventh FA Cup winners medal - a record - following the victory against Liverpool, Cole finished the season by adding the one trophy which had eluded him, the Champions League, to his collection. He also scored our fourth penalty in the shoot-out win against Bayern Munich.
Cole scored his first goal of the 2012/13 season in our 1-0 victory over Stoke City in mid-September, and in January 2013 it was announced that the left-back had signed a one-year extension to his contract, tying him to the Blues until the summer of 2014.
Cole made his 300th Chelsea appearance in the 2-0 away defeat at Manchester City in February 2013, but he was then forced to miss a crucial run of games during a frantic end to the season after aggravating a hamstring in the 1-0 FA Cup win over Manchester United.
Cole, however, made his return in our Europa League semi-final away at Basel and remained in the side for the rest of the campaign, lifting a new title, the Europa League, after our success in Amsterdam against Benfica.
A product of Arsenal's youth system, Ashley was born in east London and made his debut for the Gunners at the age of 18 in the League Cup.
He spent a three-month loan period at Crystal Palace at the end of the 1999/00 season, making 14 appearances and scoring one goal, his progress rewarded with his first Premiership appearance in the final league game of the season.
By the end of the following campaign, Ashley had taken over as first choice left-back from Silvinho, and the next season was handed his first winners' medals as Arsenal secured the Double, beating Chelsea in the FA Cup Final. A year later Southampton were beaten in Cardiff to take the Cup tally to two.
He was also well on the way to his second Premiership title (playing 32 times in Arsenal's unbeaten league season of 2003/04) and had become an England international.
A third FA Cup win was added in 2005, and although his final Arsenal season saw him hampered by injuries, he recovered to start their Champions League Final defeat by Barcelona, his last game for the club.
Having played for England at youth and Under-21 levels, Ashley was named in Sven-Göran Eriksson's first squad and made his full international debut against Albania in March 2001.
He played all five England games at the World Cup in 2002 and for many people, was one of his nation's star performers during Euro 2004 in Portugal. He was named in the all-star squad for the tournament.
He also played each of England's five games at the 2006 World Cup, but was absent in crucial qualifiers as they missed out on Euro 2008.
After nine years at the top of the game, he became England's joint-most-capped full-back in October 2010, matching Kenny Sansom's 86 caps in the 0-0 draw with Montenegro, going on to break the record in subsequent games, and he will now be earmarking a century of appearances for his country. He was voted England's Player of the Year for 2010 by supporters.
Cole competed for England, by this time under the stewardship of Roy Hodgson, at Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, and while he enjoyed a solid tournament, both he and Ashley Young missed from the penalty spot as England were eliminated by Italy at the quarter-final stage.
Having been called into the squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine, on 98 caps, his opportunity to become the first full-back to break the 100-cap barrier was dealt a blow when he was ruled out of the Moldova game with an ankle injury.
Cole eventually became only the seventh player in history to earn 100 caps for England during the friendly win against Brazil in February 2013.
He then captained the national side in May's friendly against Republic of Ireland to mark his achievement. Though injury ruled him out of England's decisive final two World Cup qualifiers, victories in both games means he will have the chance to represent his nation at a sixth major tournament in Brazil next summer.