Happy 90th Lord Attenborough
Feature Thu 3 Jan 2013
Chelsea Football Club wishes a very happy birthday to our life president Lord Attenborough.
The Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA-winning actor, film director and producer turns 90 today (Thursday) and has a long history of devoted support for Chelsea. He previously served as a director and life vice-president.
It was back in the late 1940s when the young Richard Attenborough's passion for the Pensioners, as we were then nicknamed, was truly ignited. A resident of west London, he trained with the Chelsea players for a fortnight in order to improve his physical condition for the making of the film Brighton Rock, and he became friends with Tommy Lawton, the star centre-forward of English football.
Lawton moved on but Lord Attenborough remained a Chelsea supporter and showbiz links with Stamford Bridge were enhanced by a stream of star names he invited as guests to watch games, including Laurence Olivier, Steve McQueen, John Wayne, John Mills and Frank Sinatra.
His role in the club went further when he became a director and he was on the board during the glamorous, trophy-winning period of the early 1970s.
When the club ownership changed hands a decade later, Lord Attenborough was an important figure when Chelsea's future at Stamford Bridge came under threat, ensuring crucial shares did not fall into the hands of property developers as others did.
No longer a Chelsea director, with the filming of Gandhi keeping him abroad for long periods, he was thanked with his appointment as life vice-president and he continued to be prominent at many club occasions.
Lord Attenborough helped launch the current club badge in 2004 and in 2008 he became life president.
On being handed a commemorative plate to mark the occasion, he said: 'I'll sweep the Oscars off the mantel piece and put this plate right on top now. It means as much to me as any award or honour I have been given in the past.'
He has devoted time and energy to improving facilities for disabled fans, and charities have long been a large part of Lord Attenborough's life. Help a London Child, a charity he had launched, was for four years the club's official UK charity partner. Prior to the Aston Villa home game earlier this month another charity he supports, the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, collected funds at Stamford Bridge to help mark his 90th birthday.
Hopefully the team can bring the UEFA Super Cup back this week as a birthday present!