Inside Blue Sat 13 Jan 2018
Eden Hazard was selected in the UEFA Team of the Year for the first time recently, but he is far from the first Chelsea player to make the cut.
The Team of the Year is chosen by football supporters from all over the world, with every player competing in a European league available for inclusion, Hazard receiving 303,376 votes to become the first Belgian ever on the list, alongside Kevin De Bruyne, who is also in the 2017 XI.
The only other current Chelsea player to have made the Team of the Year is Cesc Fabregas, albeit during his Arsenal days, but five former Blues have been picked during their time at Stamford Bridge...
Ashley Cole – 2010
The most recent Chelsea player to be included prior to Hazard was Ashley Cole. In truth, several of his Blues team-mates could rightly feel aggrieved not to have joined him that year, seeing as it came off the back of what was at the time arguably the club's greatest-ever season. Chelsea won our first-ever domestic double in 2009/10, claiming the Premier League title and FA Cup in Carlo Ancelotti's first season as manager, and it was a stand-out year for our left-back as well. Personally, it was Cole's most prolific Premier League campaign in front of goal, finding the back of the net four times in that competition, including one effort in a 7-2 thrashing of Sunderland which saw him win our Goal of the Season award. It was also in 2010 that his performances finally earned the full praise they deserved away from Stamford Bridge, helped in no small part by some stellar showings for England, for which he received the national team's Player of the Year honour.
Didier Drogba – 2007
During the 2006/07 season, Didier Drogba was the spearhead of a potent Chelsea attack, which was incredibly still in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple as May began. The 33 goals he scored during that campaign only begins to tell the tale of how central he was to that push for glory, although the 20 of them he scored in the Premier League did win him the Golden Boot. In the end we had to make do with two trophies, beating Arsenal 2-1 in the League Cup final before defeating Manchester United 1-0 in the FA Cup final. Fittingly, it was Drogba who scored all three of our goals which clinched the silverware in those two decisive matches. The 2007/08 season may not have been as successful for the club, but Drogba still started in excellent goalscoring form, finding the back of the net eight times in as many games in October and November.
Petr Cech – 2005
It says a lot about the impact Petr Cech had at Chelsea that he had only been at the club for one full season when he was named in the UEFA Team of the Year. It is hardly surprising, though, given the outstanding start he made to his Blues career. 2005 was, of course, when we finally got our hands on the top-flight title for the first time in 50 years and, having taken the No1 spot from Carlo Cudicini early in the season, Cech had a big part to play. He started the year in incredible form, which saw him set a then Premier League record by going 1,025 minutes without conceding a single goal. He was only beaten 15 times in that competition all season, unsurprisingly winning the Golden Glove award for most clean sheets. He also got a winner's medal in the League Cup and Community Shield that year. He didn't start the 2005/06 campaign in bad form either, conceding just one goal in our first nine fixtures, split between the Premier League and Champions League.
John Terry – 2005, 2007, 2008 & 2009
The only person to be named in the UEFA Team of the Year more than once while a Chelsea player and, like in so many Blues statistics, John Terry is way out in front, having been selected an impressive four times. As well as appearing alongside Cech in 2005 and Drogba in 2007, he was our only representative in 2008 and 2009, making it three consecutive inclusions in the XI. The first of those awards came after he had battled through the second of two injury-hit years, when he was seemingly cursed with a series of unrelated and unlucky, yet no-less painful, ailments, including three broken bones in his foot and being knocked unconscious in the previous League Cup final. However, he overcome those problems to captain Chelsea in the 2008 League Cup final and lead us to our first Champions League final, although both would end in heartbreak. He was still handed the award for the latter competition's best defender, though. The next season started badly, but Terry's leadership played a key role in binding the squad together when Guus Hiddink came in as manager in the second half of the season, with a dramatic turnaround in form seeing us secure a top-three finish in the league, reach the Champions League semi-finals and our talismanic skipper lifting the FA Cup trophy at Wembley for the third time after beating Everton in the 2009 final.
Ricardo Carvalho – 2004
The first Chelsea player to be included in the UEFA Team of the Year since it started in 2001 was Ricardo Carvalho, although in truth his place in the line-up owed much to his exploits away from Stamford Bridge, before joining the club that summer. He was a key part of the Porto side which upset the odds to win the Champions League in 2004, with Carvalho playing the full 90 minutes of every match in that competition, including the 3-0 victory over Monaco in the final. Having also helped Porto claim the domestic title that year, he followed up all that club success by being an influential member of the Portugal national team which went all the way to the final of Euro 2004, before themselves being the victim of an upset as Greece defeated them in Lisbon. Nevertheless, Carvalho's status as one of the world's top centre-backs had been secured, as evidenced by being named the Champions League's best defender and included in the Team of the Tournament for the Euros. It should be no surprise that his early months at Chelsea in 2004 went just as well, forming an excellent defensive partnership with John Terry and setting us on our way to winning the Premier League for the first time at the end of his first season.