World Book Day: The best of the Blues

To celebrate World Book Day in the UK and Ireland, we've dusted off some of our favourite Chelsea tomes and picked out the juiciest excerpts for you to relive in all their glory...

Today marks the annual event of World Book Day, on which literature is celebrated and reading promoted across all age groups and genres. Over the years, there have been some terrific Chelsea books published, lifting the lid on life behind the scenes at Stamford Bridge and providing a unique player insight into the world of a professional footballer.

From Dennis Wise's tales of FA Cup final bets with Eric Cantona to an infamous incident in Blackpool as recalled by Bobby Tambling, the stories are often eye-opening, hilarious and barely believable.

Here, revisiting a series from the first nationwide lockdown, we pick out a few of our favourite Chelsea books and review some of the most interesting extracts. So grab yourself a coffee and treat yourself to a good old read this World Book Day...

Dennis Wise on his Cup final bet with Cantona

In his autobiography, our former skipper recalled the 1994 FA Cup final, which the Blues lost 4-0 to Manchester United. Not only did Wise end suffer the ignominy of captaining Chelsea to our heaviest-ever Cup final defeat, he also lost £100 in a bet with Eric Cantona.

‘I had used the tactic before when Tony Cottee was about to take a penalty for Everton,’ Wise wrote. ‘As he stood waiting to take it I said, “I bet you a fiver you miss.” He just said, “Leave me alone.” Whether it affected him or not I don’t know, but I do know that he missed.

‘Having succeeded once, I thought I would try it again with Cantona. “Come on,” I said, “let’s have a bet. I bet you miss.” I was a bit taken aback when he said, “Okay, £100.” I was thinking more in terms of another fiver but I still agreed. He scored.

‘Later in the game United got another penalty. This time he came up to me and said, “Hey, double or quits on the £100?” “No chance,” I said. And, of course, he put that one away too.’


Tambling recalls an incident in Blackpool

In Bobby Tambling's 2016 autobiography Goals In Life, the man who stood for almost half a century as our most prolific goalscorer tells the story of a night out in the North-West that ended badly for a group of his team-mates.

The squad had travelled early to Blackpool ahead of a big Division One clash but eight players broke curfew on a night out and were sent home to be greeted by the paparazzi at Euston Station. Or, as Tambling put it, ‘eight players being treated like naughty school kids, hung out to dry’.

That is just one of many revealing tales told by our former striker and you can read some others right here.

Lampard and Mata reminisce

Two of our 2012 Champions League winners have also put pen to paper on their footballing memoirs. Frank Lampard remembers beating 'the Invincibles' in the 2003/04 Champions League in his autobiography Totally Frank.

‘It was a contest we desperately wanted to win – for ourselves, for the manager and for Chelsea,’ noted our record goalscorer. ‘This was about pride and the chance to get to a European Cup semi-final for the first time in our history.'

Meanwhile, Mata takes us right into the heart of the preparations for the Champions League final in Munich in his 2019 autobiography Suddenly A Footballer.

‘There were 25 guys all silent, looking at the big screen in front of us,’ he wrote. ‘Suddenly, starting with the goalkeepers and featuring every single player in the team, our families and friends were sending us a message of courage and passion that we would never forget. 

'Wives, partners, mums, daughters and sons, fathers and grandparents. I still get goosebumps thinking about it.'

Click here for more from the Chelsea Book Club series

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