Last weekend, Armando Broja became the 750th player to represent Chelsea at men's first team level, but who are our other landmark debutants and when were their first Blues appearances?
750 – 8 March 2020
Our Academy striker and Albania youth international Armando Broja was named on the substitutes' bench for the first time by Frank Lampard against Everton, and came on for Olivier Giroud to play the last four minutes of the 4-0 win.
700 – 24 September 2014
Kurt Zouma had a debut to remember when he started a 2-1 win over Bolton Wanderers in the third round of the League Cup, opening the scoring in the 25th minute. We went on to win the competition, with Zouma playing a key role again in the final, switching to midfield to nullify Christian Eriksen.
650 – 17 August 2008
Numbers 649 and 650 both came on the first day of the 2008/09 season, when Portuguese internationals Jose Bosingwa and Deco played their first matches for Chelsea in a 4-0 win over Portsmouth. Deco put the icing on the cake by netting our fourth goal a minute from the end.
600 – 13 August 2003
The summer of 2003 brought big change at Stamford Bridge as Roman Abramovich arrived as the club’s owner, and that was reflected when six players made their debuts when we travelled to Zilina in our first match of the campaign, in a Champions League qualification round. New signings Wayne Bridge, Damien Duff, Geremi, Glen Johnson and Juan Sebastian Veron all started the 2-0 win, with Joe Cole coming on for Duff in the second half, taking us from 598 to 604.
550 – 16 April 1997
Canadian goalkeeper Craig Forrest made the first of three appearances in his only season at Chelsea from the bench, replacing the injured Frode Grodas after 36 minutes away at Newcastle United. He did not concede, but as we had gone three goals down just before he was introduced it made little difference as we lost 3-1.
500 – 1 September 1990
In the third match of the 1990/91 season, youth team graduate Jason Cundy was handed his chance by Chelsea manager Bobby Campbell away at Queens Park Rangers. It was a tough start, though, as QPR were awarded a penalty in the first minute for handball, and former Blues striker Roy Wegerle converted for a 1-0 win for the Hoops.
450 – 9 April 1983
Centre-back Paul Williams made his one and only appearance for Chelsea, and indeed in professional football, away at Oldham Athletic in Division Two aged 20. We twice took the lead through Mike Fillery but had to settle for a 2-2 draw.
400 – 30 September 1972
Gary Locke was one of a number of youth team players stepping up to the senior side in the early Seventies, making his debut at right-back in a 3-1 win away at Coventry City. It was the first of 317 appearances for Chelsea before he left for Crystal Palace over a decade later.
350 – 30 January 1963
Another youth team graduate Ian Watson made his debut in an FA Cup replay against Tranmere Rovers, one of the few games played at Stamford Bridge during the Big Freeze of winter 1963. Nearly a month after our previous fixture, goals from Barry Bridges, Graham Moore and Terry Venables gave us a 3-1 win.
300 – 28 April 1956
John Compton, John Mortimore and Dick Whittaker all made their debuts on the last day of the 1955/56 season, a 2-1 win over Blackpool at the end of a difficult first campaign as English champions. Mortimore was the most notable of the trio, as he spent the next decade as the experienced head guiding Tommy Docherty’s young ‘Diamonds’ through their early years.
250 – 1 January 1948
Two months after signing for Chelsea from Notts County, Bill Dickson was handed his debut by Billy Birrell in a 1-1 draw at Blackburn Rovers on New Year’s Day. The Northern Ireland international forward made 119 fappearances before leaving for Arsenal in 1953.
200 – 24 February 1934
Another player from Northern Ireland, Billy Mitchell was born in the same town as Dickson – Lurgan – and made his Chelsea debut 14 years earlier, in a 2-2 draw at Middlesbrough. We came back from two goals down thanks to legendary striker Hughie Gallacher.
150 – 20 December 1924
Shortly after arriving from Luton Town, Leslie Odell made his debut in a thrilling 3-3 draw away at Barnsley in Division Two. Although Odell only spent one season as a starting regular, he was a loyal servant to the club for 11 years before moving back home to Bedfordshire with non-league Bedford Town.
100 – 5 September 1914
Laurence Abrams, Jimmy Croal and Bob McNeil all made their debuts as the 1914/15 season got underway with a London derby away at Tottenham Hotspur. McNeil got our equaliser in a 1-1 draw and, not to be outdone, his fellow Scot Croal opened the scoring in a 2-2 draw with Bradford four days later. Football was suspended at the end of that campaign due to the First World War, but all three returned to action with Chelsea when the season resumed in 1919, and went on to make a combined 485 appearances for the club.
50 – 12 September 1908
Left-back William Cartwright made the first of his 46 appearances for Chelsea in a 4-1 win over Bury early in the 1908/09 season, having joined from Gainsborough Trinity over the summer. He stayed at Stamford Bridge until 1913, when he moved to Tottenham.
1 – 2 September 1905
The first 11 players represented Chelsea in a competitive match when we took to the pitch for the first time in a 1-0 defeat at Stockport County. The line-up that day was: William Foulke, Robert Mackie, Robert McEwan, George Key, Bob McRoberts, Thomas Miller, Martin Moran, John Tait Robertson (player-manager), David Copeland, Jimmy Windridge and Jack Kirwan.