After more than a decade of service to Chelsea as a player, coach and club ambassador, Tore Andre Flo has left the club to take over at Sogndal in his native Norway.
Flo initially joined the Blues in the summer of 1997 as a promising 24-year-old striker. Over the next three seasons he established himself as a key cog in the silverware-laden teams Gianluca Vialli moulded at the end of the 1990s and very start of the new Millennium.
He picked up four winners’ medals in four different competitions: the League Cup, the Cup Winners’ Cup, the Super Cup and the FA Cup. It was in a fifth tournament, the Champions League, where he enjoyed arguably his most successful spell as a Blue.
He netted eight goals on our first adventure with Europe’s elite during the 1999/00 campaign. That remains a club record for the most Champions League goals scored by a Chelsea player in a single season, and Flo’s brace against Barcelona at Stamford Bridge is still etched in the memory of everyone who was lucky enough to witness it. The same can be said for his hat-trick at White Hart Lane in our biggest-ever win against Tottenham, 6-1 in 1997.
Flo left for Rangers in 2000 for a then club-record fee for a sale, having scored 50 goals in 163 appearances in west London. After retiring from playing in 2012, he returned to Chelsea as a club ambassador and a coach in our Academy, working with our youth development teams, most often our Under-14s.
Flo continued to pass on his considerable expertise when he became a loan player technical coach, the role he finishes today to become head coach at Sogndal in Norway’s second tier. They are the club where he began and ended his playing career.
Our tributes to Flo start with words from Carlo Cudicini, who both played alongside Flo at Chelsea and more recently worked with him in our loan department.
‘As a player he was known for his height, and he was a threat in the air, but he was also very skilful,’ recalls Cudicini.
‘Technically he was very good. He was a player you could play off. A couple of seasons before I arrived at the club, it looked like he was having a lot of joy coming on with around 30 minutes left and scoring goals. He was the kind of player you could always rely on.
‘Then he had that run in the Champions League where he scored a lot of goals and was an important piece of the team in that campaign.
‘He was very reliable as a player, and he has been very reliable since he has worked with us in the loan department,’ continued Cudicini.
‘He is a reserved guy, a quiet guy, but once you get to know him you realise the words he says are very important. It’s very enjoyable having him around. He’s a hard-working guy, he loves looking after our guys, and everything he does he does 100 per cent. He is somebody I have really been able to trust which in my job is very important.
‘We will miss him 100 per cent. I know it’s a big opportunity for Tore. He always had in his mind the coaching aspect. It’s an opportunity for him to work for the club he played for, it’s not easy to let him go because I know what he can give but I understand this is his next opportunity in life and he must take it. We are all behind him.’
Neil Bath is the head of youth development at Chelsea and oversaw Flo’s work in the Academy.
‘Tore was a valued member of the coaching team during his time in the Academy, adding great value with his knowledge and experiences as someone who played at the very highest level, including here at Chelsea,’ says Bath.
‘He was an aspirational role model for our young players, representing our values that you can stay humble and approachable even after reaching the very pinnacle of the game. Unsurprisingly, he excelled with on-pitch demonstrations, as well as giving one-on-one feedback to players.
‘After his move into the loans department, Tore was able to provide a unique insight having experienced life both as a former professional and an Academy coach, and he continued to play an important role in the development of our young players as they took their first steps into senior football out on loan.’
The final word goes to Petr Cech, our technical and performance advisor.
‘We have to thank Tore for everything he has done for the club,’ acknowledges Cech.
‘He has been a great servant as a player and then as a coach in the Academy and now as a part of the loan department. The players loved working with him. He is a remarkable man and human being. You hardly see somebody who works so hard but is still humble and nice to be around.
‘We will definitely miss him but we wish him all the best. Hopefully his next step, which he always wanted to make, will go well for him. He will always remain part of the Chelsea family for his history with the football club.’
Thank you and good luck, Tore!