Chelsea 0 Milan 0 – Champions League, 15th September 1999
Milan 1 Chelsea 1 – Champions League, 26th October 1999
44 years after first qualifying for the European Cup, we were finally due to play our opening game in the competition. A change in the rules meant that our third-place League finish was enough for a place in the qualifying rounds which were negotiated with a routine win over the Latvian minnows Skonto Riga.
It couldn’t have been a better match to open our account in Europe’s premier competition, a game against one of the giants of world football, the five-times champions AC Milan.
Stamford Bridge was alive with excitement and the game lived up to expectations. There were no goals but the quality of football from both teams was exceptional. Chelsea were in no way overawed by the reputation of our opponents and indeed the closest either team came to scoring came when Gianfranco Zola just beat the keeper to a through ball only to see his toe poke come back off an upright.
The return tie was possibly an even better game. This time though there were goals. Milan scored first with just 15 minutes left. It took us four minutes to level, Dennis Wise collecting a long pass from Roberto Di Matteo and sweeping the ball home in one movement.
It is a goal still celebrated in song at Stamford Bridge.
The draw took Chelsea to the brink of qualification for the second phase but perhaps more importantly announced the club’s arrival on the grand stage.