Connecting with the fans

As a Chelsea fan in Asia, it was great to see the marvellous reception that Paulo Ferreira and Frank Lampard received when they were in the Far East recently for the Premier League trophy tour.

Paulo watched our win against Manchester United on 5 November with Blues supporters in Bangkok while 'Super Frank' was in Tokyo a few days later, surprising some lucky fans as he photobombed their snaps with the Premier League trophy.

Both ex-Blues were model ambassadors for the club during their respective visits, helping out at coaching clinics for local youngsters, taking part in events with our club partners and meeting with our passionate fans to field questions, pose for selfies and sign autographs.

It made for some great fan engagement and showed us how big a role our former stars can play in building a stronger connection between Chelsea and our fans around the world.

There is a saying in football that no player in bigger than a club and we do tend to support our favourite team more passionately than the individual players. That’s not to say that we don’t have our own personal favourites in the squad but if they were to leave Chelsea, it isn’t likely that we would switch allegiance to their new club. 

After all, we didn’t become Manchester City fans when Lampard joined them, or Gooners when Petr Cech moved to Arsenal, or Villans when John Terry left for Aston Villa. Of course, we still follow their exploits and hope for the best for them at their new clubs (unless they are playing against the Blues) but we remain Chelsea fans and cheer for the players who have replaced our departing heroes.

But as passionately as we feel about our club, it is just an organisation and we do need to have some personalities to humanise it for us and to fuel our passion towards it. As Chelsea fans, we identify ourselves with our royal blue kit, the lion on our badge and our home ground at Stamford Bridge but it is the players who flesh out the 112-year-old institution for us and give us reason to get excited and cheer for them every week.

In 2005, Lampard, Ferreira, Cech and Terry helped us to achieve something that had not been done for half a century as Chelsea won the Premier League. Seven years later, they were still at the club when we did something that had never been done by a team from London as we were emerged triumphant in the Champions League final.

Their exploits will never be forgotten by Chelsea fans and so we maintain our warmth for them even after they have moved to other clubs or hung up their boots.

Since Roman Abramovich took charge of the club in 2003, Chelsea have done a pretty good job in embracing our heroes of the past. Our older legends like Ron Harris, Peter Bonetti and Bobby Tambling are often at Stamford Bridge as matchday hospitality hosts while more recently retired heroes like Ferreira, Tore Andre Flo and Jody Morris have returned to take up technical roles at Cobham.

And it is great to see ex-players and managers like Joe Cole, Michael Ballack, Ramires, Claudio Ranieri and Carlo Ancelotti returning to the Bridge to watch the Blues in action and receiving warm welcomes from the spectators, who fondly remember their contributions to the club.

Chelsea appear to have a good rapport with our ex-stars and have utilised them well in engaging with the fans in the UK and overseas.

Hopefully the success that we have seen from having Paulo in Thailand and Frank in Japan will see more of them coming out to the Far East for club activities in the near future.