A youth team player turned youth team manager who played over 100 times for Chelsea in between, Andy Myers is the latest former Blue taking part in our feature recalling past careers at Stamford Bridge.
The defender progressed through our youth setup before making his debut in 1991 at the age of just 17. He would go on to feature 106 times throughout the Nineties, collecting medals in the 1997 FA Cup and 1998 Cup Winners' Cup before signing for Bradford City in 1999. Six years after hanging up his boots, Myers returned to Chelsea in a coaching capacity with our Academy and is currently in charge of our Under-18s side.
Tell us about how you came to sign for Chelsea?
I came into the School of Excellence, which was the system before academies started, when I was about 11. Bob Orsborn, who a lot of people will remember because he went on to work in the Chelsea Academy for a number of years, was actually my school teacher at the time and he couldn’t understand why I wasn’t with a club.
He actually took me to West Ham and Arsenal for trials but Chelsea seemed to be the right fit for me. I came in with Frank Sinclair and Eddie Newton a couple of years older than me and it felt right.
What were your immediate impressions of the club?
We trained all over the place – at Battersea Park, on Parsons Green or even at Stamford Bridge. We never really knew where we were going to be but we didn’t care. We just did what we were told and we didn’t mind because it was just like being out on the street playing football with your mates.
What about Stamford Bridge itself?
We trained there sometimes. I remember the offices were right at the front in the cottage and there was a garage where the tractors were kept, which is where we’d often practise up against the concrete walls. I remember sometimes we’d set up behind the goal just next to the old dog track and train there.
It was special to play there after going through all those experiences. As a kid, you always want to be a professional footballer and you just do everything you possibly can to make it so to play at the Bridge was a dream come true for me.
What do you remember about the backing the team received from the fans, both home and away, during your time at the club? Any particular games stand out in terms of atmosphere?
The Chelsea fans have always been there for the home-grown players, even when you’re not playing well. The one thing they always do is stick by you as long as you’re giving 100 per cent. The FA Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup wins were special days and the fans played a big part in that because our journey together was a brilliant one.
Of all the managers you worked under here, who had the biggest influence on you, your game or your career?
Bobby Campbell gave me my debut so I’ll always be grateful to him for that. He believed in the youngsters, gave so many of us a chance and paved the way for a lot of young players to have successful careers in the game.
I’d also have to say Glenn Hoddle because he came in and just changed the whole club. He’d been playing abroad and he brought that philosophy in with him – he changed the diet and obviously moved to a new way of playing, away from the rigid 4-4-2 we’d been using for a long time.
The big thing about Glenn was that he took the time to see what individuals needed. Growing up, I had a lot of injuries and missed a lot of development as a result but once you’re a professional, everyone expects you to know everything. Glenn saw what individuals needed and he knew what he wanted from them to make the team work.
Tell us about some of the most memorable games you were involved in for Chelsea…
My debut under Bobby Campbell is obviously one that sticks in the mind. It was against Luton Town in the old First Division and Bobby decided to drop a lot of the big heads for that game – Tony Dorigo and Kerry Dixon were out and a few of the young ones like Frank Sinclair, Damian Matthew and Graham Stuart started.
We were 3-0 down at half-time and there were definitely a few grumbles as we came off but we managed to turn it around in the second half. I came on for 15 to 20 minutes, we got it back to 3-3 and it was almost a standing ovation from the fans at the end. That just showed me that the fans would always appreciate hard work and effort.
My full debut under Ian Porterfield against Liverpool was another special one because I had no idea it was coming but actually ended up scoring in a 2-2 draw. I also remember games at Old Trafford because I don’t think I lost there in five games. We always had a good record against United.
The FA Cup semi-final at Villa Park is one that stands out the most because we played so well that day but everything seemed to go against us – players getting injured, going down to 10 men, Doobs [Michael Duberry] hitting the bar. We tried so hard and probably deserved to win but it just showed what we were about as a group of players.
Which team-mates were you closest to during your time here? Are you still in touch with them now?
I’ve always kept in touch with people like Michael Duberry, Jody Morris, Frank Sinclair, obviously Eddie Newton as he is still working here at the club. You don’t have to be speaking all the time but they know you’re there for them. I remember when Jody rang me to ask to come in and do some training when he was without a club near the end of his career so I spoke to Neil Bath and Dermot Drummy and we got him in. It’s important that you try and help people whenever you can.
Were there any opposition teams or players you particularly disliked facing and, if so, why?
Trevor Sinclair always seemed to give me a tough time because he was small, compact and difficult to defend against. Chris Waddle was another one – you knew what he was going to do and everyone would say ‘he’s going to drop his shoulder and whip it in’, but you just couldn’t stop him because he was so good at it.
I remember being up against Andrei Kanchelskis at Old Trafford when I was only 17 and he actually got taken off, which was a nice feeling for me. There are so many opponents over the years that cause you problems in different ways. Bryan Robson was another one – he was the England captain and I went into a 50-50 with him but he actually came off worse and had to come off!
What about opposition fans, were there intimidating stadiums to play at?
Wembley was the ultimate place to play. I’m not saying the FA Cup isn’t taken as seriously now but back then it really was the one everyone wanted to win. The atmosphere at the old Wembley, with the twin towers and all the fans in the stands, after the disappointment of 1994, was pretty immense.
As a Chelsea fan, I have to also say the Champions League final in Munich. Being in the crowd watching with all the supporters was amazing.
How do you look back on your time at Chelsea overall? Is there anything you would change or do differently?
The injuries from a young age were quite difficult. On reflection, maybe I was too honest at times and tried to play through the pain rather than speaking up. In 1992, I was starting to break in and looked like I’d start the season in the team but I went into a 50-50 in pre-season and cracked my ankle. I didn’t realise it was broken so just carried on going but the bone was actually touching the tendon and it gave me a lot of trouble for three years after that. Sometimes you think it’s brave to play on but you end up going backwards.
However, I wouldn’t change too much about my time at Chelsea. I’d have liked to have played more games but I have no regrets because to come away with an FA Cup medal and a Cup Winners’ Cup medal is pretty special. You just look at what the club has achieved since that time and feel like you played a small part in starting that.