History

Forget Kyle Walker – this Blues hero was the ultimate outfielder in goal!

Seeing Manchester City full-back Kyle Walker stand in between the sticks for Man City this week reminded us of when a legendary Chelsea defender spent the whole game in goal – and kept a clean sheet!

To most Blues supporters, David Webb is the man who won the FA Cup for the club in 1970 when he headed home the winning goal against Leeds United at the end of two epic matches against one of our fiercest rivals from the time.

However, to pigeonhole him in this way would be doing a disservice to a player who fits the description of 'all-action footballer' better than most. There wasn’t much that Webby didn’t do on a football pitch!

Our favourite came to mind earlier this week after Claudio Bravo was dismissed for Manchester City against Atalanta, having earlier been beaten by a header from on-loan Chelsea midfielder Mario Pasalic.

Having been introduced as a sub at half-time for Ederson, Bravo’s error of judgement left City without a recognised goalkeeper for the final part of the match – so up stepped Walker to take the gloves.

It’s nothing new, seeing an outfielder in goal, although it does seem to happen fleetingly these days. Since the turn of the century we’ve had both Glen Johnson and John Terry don the goalkeeper’s jersey, and neither of them conceded a goal in the final few minutes of the matches they appeared in, against Newcastle and Reading respectively.

Those appearances pale in comparison to what occurred on 27 December 1971. With Peter Bonetti already out of action, John Phillips was standing in for the Cat – but then he injured his back getting out of bed on the morning of a game against Ipswich Town.

The call went out for third-choice keeper Steve Sherwood to return to London from Yorkshire for the game. He didn’t make it. Instead, up stepped Webb, who kept a clean sheet as Ipswich Town were defeated 2-0.

‘I’d prayed before the start of the game in my penalty area, real pantomime stuff,’ he joked. ‘It was surreal!

‘The fans all thought it was a joke when I came out in the goalkeeper jersey and the Cat’s green gloves! They were like pianist gloves. To be honest, I’d have rather headed the ball clear than catch it.’

The Tractor Boys must have been sick of the sight of Webb. Three years earlier, the Blues had travelled to Portman Road for a Boxing Day game and he helped himself to a hat-trick – his first goals for the Blues!

‘There must be teams in everyone’s career that stand out, and Ipswich was the one for me,’ he said. ‘I don’t know why that was, but they would have been sick at the sight of me.’

When he eventually left Chelsea in 1974, he did so a Blues hero with just shy of 300 appearances to his name and an impressive goals tally of 34 – and, uniquely, a clean sheet to go along with them…

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