As Blues skipper Cesar Azpilicueta marks a decade with the club, we look back at the starting XI on the day he was introduced to the Stamford Bridge fans and find out what they’re up to now…
A day after he’d put pen to paper on a deal to join Chelsea from Marseille, our new Spanish full-back was out on the pitch of his new west-London home to meet the club’s supporters. Alongside him was another fresh arrival, Victor Moses, who had just joined us from Wigan Athletic.
Roberto Di Matteo’s men were about to take on Newcastle United in our third match of a Premier League season that had already featured wins over Wigan Athletic and Reading, and we were about to make it three of three against the Magpies courtesy of an Eden Hazard penalty and a belter from Fernando Torres.
Here’s the team that took to the field that day and a reminder of what they achieved with the club and where they are now.
There’s no doubt that Cech was Chelsea’s greatest-ever goalkeeper – he’s got the trophies and the clean sheets to back up that claim. This game came a few months after arguably the peak of his Blues career, when he was one of the heroes of our Champions League triumph. Now, 10 years on, he’s only just departed Stamford Bridge for the second time, having left his technical and performance advisor role with the club over the summer.
‘Two-goal’ was a key part of two Premier League-winning defences, as well as popping up with more than his fair share of goals. Branner hasn’t been seen on a football pitch – well, in a professional capacity – since he twanged his hamstring at the Bridge while taking part in West Brom’s shock 5-2 win over us in April 2021. A few months after that he drew Chelsea’s name out of the hat in the Champions League group-stage draw.
For all of the criticism he received for his flamboyance, David Luiz was a key man in some of Chelsea’s biggest triumphs over the years, having had two separate three-year spells with us. He remained in the Premier League following the second of those stints after joining Arsenal, but since 2021 he has been back in his homeland with Flamengo.
After leaving Bournemouth in the summer following the Cherries’ promotion to the Premier League, Cahill has been without a club – although retirement may still be a way off based on his most recent Twitter post, which was a video of him going hell for leather in the sack race at his kid’s sports day! Ten years ago he was still relatively new to Chelsea, although he’d already won the Champions League and FA Cup – the first of many trophies during his time in blue.
Although Azpi would later replace him in the side at left-back, back in 2012 Ash was approaching a decade as one of the world’s best full-backs and he had been sensational during our run to Champions League glory. Post-playing, he has spent time coaching in Chelsea’s Academy, and he is now assistant to England Under-21s boss Lee Carsley and part of Frank Lampard’s backroom team at Everton.
John Mikel Obi
Another player whose best spell in a Chelsea shirt coincided with our first triumph in Europe’s premier club competition, Mikel was just past the midway point of his 11 years as a Blue and soon to become a continental champion with his country. Since leaving Chelsea in 2017 he has been back in England twice, with Middlesbrough and Stoke City, and he most recently had a stint with Kuwait SC.
This game against Newcastle was the Portuguese midfielder’s final Chelsea appearance, concluding a spell at the Bridge that lasted only a year. In that time, having joined us from Liverpool, he’d missed out on the Champions League final through suspension but helped us beat his old club in an FA Cup final. He left for Fenerbahce, where he played out the last days of his career, and he later showed another side to himself with an extravagant performance on a lip-syncing show in Portugal!
More than three years have passed since the brilliant Belgian left Stamford Bridge with legitimate claims of being one of our all-time greats – with an unmatchable four Player of the Year trophies. We were only at the start back in August 2012, but it didn’t take long for Blues fans to fall in love. We’ve since been reunited with him twice in the Champions League, a competition he won for the first time with Real Madrid in May.
Mata had just completed a debut season to remember at the Bridge, when the fans selected him as their Player of the Year, and it was an honour he’d retain at the end of this campaign too. Little did we know it would be his last full season as a Blue. He left us in January 2014 to spend eight years with Manchester United and after leaving the Red Devils in the summer he remains without a club.
Having become the first player in Champions League history to make their competition debut in the final, Bertrand was given a more prominent role with the Blues in this 2012/13 campaign. However, that would be as good as it got for this Academy graduate, who went on to join Southampton and is now with Leicester City, although he won’t be in action against us on Saturday as he is still working his way back from a serious injury.
Last summer Torres was back where it all began, taking on a prominent coaching role in the academy of the club where he learned his trade, Atletico Madrid, after ending his playing career in Japan. Back in 2012 he was 18 months into his Chelsea career and at the start of a season that would end with him scoring in the Europa League final. This was his best season as a Blue, with 22 goals to his name and a starring role in our European campaign.