As Chelsea’s German contingent increases for the second time this summer, with Kai Havertz now joining Timo Werner, we look back at some of those who have gone before them and reveal the first thing that springs to mind – and that means snow fights, groundsman’s buggies and bromances…
Only five German internationals have previously played a men's first-team game for the club, although it should be noted that each of them lifted at least one major trophy for the Blues before departing.
However, what they lack in quantity, this group of players certainly make up for in terms of the legacy they left in west London. Here’s our slightly off-beat take on what first springs to mind when we recall our German Blues…
For a time, Robert Huth looked to be our German John Terry, as the two shared similar qualities when it came to the art of defending – namely they were hard as nails and outstanding in the air.
Huth, however, had something in his locker that JT – and, to be fair, most other defenders – could only dream of: a piledriver of a shot. Seemingly nowhere in opposition territory was too far out for a crack with his right boot and cries of ‘shooooooot!’ echoed around Stamford Bridge every time he was in possession. And you don’t become a cult hero unless you oblige your adoring public every once in a while…
After he won the first of three Premier League titles – the last of which was as part of the Leicester City miracle under Claudio Ranieri, his former Blues boss – Huth endeared himself further to the Blues faithful by commandeering a groundsman’s cart and hightailing it around the pitch.
At the double
Michael Ballack was one of the midfield talents of his generation and the best spell of his four years at the Bridge came at the end of the 2007/08 season, when he showed why he boasted an international record of almost a goal every other game.
The standout performance of that run came against Manchester United, in a game we had to win to keep the title race alive. Ballack powered home a header and showed nerves of steel from the penalty spot – as well as having a, shall we say, minor disagreement with Didier Drogba over who should take a free-kick – to lead us to a 2-1 win. Alas, we ultimately finished second and subsequently lost the Champions League final against the Red Devils.
Off the pitch, we thoroughly enjoyed a snow fight with Drogba at our Cobham training ground that was perfectly captured by the Chelsea TV camera operators, when accusations of foul play – ‘That was ice!’ – were levelled at the Ivorian. Oh, and we discovered he looks quite a bit like Matt Damon...
Born to dance
After ending his first season as a Blue, in 2017/18, by producing a Man of the Match performance in the FA Cup final triumph over Manchester United, Toni Rudiger didn’t hold back. Our German centre-back was the life and soul of the post-match party, which began in the Wembley Stadium dressing room.
A year later, we were back in another cup final, this time in the Europa League, as we travelled to Baku for a London derby with far more than simply local bragging rights at stake. Unfortunately, injury had taken its toll at the end of a relentless slog of a season and Toni was forced to watch on from the sidelines, with only his crutches for company.
You would think that any injury that requires crutches might limit how vigorously you can celebrate another trophy triumph – but you would be completely wrong. Rudiger was once again leading the festivities and, if anything, he seemed to enjoy this one even more.
How Andre Schurrle’s goal on the opening weekend of the 2014/15 campaign was not in the running for the Premier League Goal of the Season award is beyond us.
Having just returned from winning the World Cup – something only a handful of Chelsea players have ever done – our No.14 applied the finishing touch to a passing move that had Blues fans drooling. Cesc Fabregas was at the heart of it, perfectly weighting a volleyed through-ball into the path of Schurrle, and the man who Jose Mourinho once described as having ‘cold blood’, following an ice-cool hat-trick against Fulham, did the rest.
Who would have thought that less than six years later, at the age of 29, Schurrle would have hung up his boots having flitted from club to club following his departure from the Bridge in 2015?
Big things were expected of Marko Marin when he became the latest pint-sized playmaker to sign for the club in 2012, joining fellow new boy Eden Hazard and Juan Mata. It’s fair to say he didn’t quite deliver like those two former Blues favourites.
Injuries were a problem and in fact, the Serbian-born player appeared only 16 times for Chelsea during his one season with the first team, with the remaining three years spent out on loan. He was an unused substitute as we won the Europa League final following a dramatic late goal by Branislav Ivanovic.
That’s rather fitting for this tale, as Branner had taken Marko under his wing from his first day at Cobham and the two became great friends, at a time when ‘bromance’ seemed to be used to describe any friendship between two blokes.
‘I enjoy spending time with him, we are friends away from training and just doing things like lunch, dinner, meeting with our families and friends,’ said Marin at the time, illustrating the above point perfectly.