The Class of Stockholm ‘98

Thirteen years ago today in Stockholm, a sublime finish from
Gianfranco Zola, with only his second touch of the game, gave my favourite era of Chelsea players victory over VFB Stuggart and handed us the European Cup Winners Cup. The side captained by Dennis Wise replicating the success of Osgood, Harris and co in Athens nearly 30 years previous. This is a look at the career of the Starting XI, plus Zola, following the match.

GK Ed De Goey – The Dutch stopper was in his first season at Chelsea, and in a rich vain of form following a shaky start. Ed remained first choice at the club until the emergence of Carlo Cudicini and left for Stoke in 2003 where he played for three more years before calling time on his career in 2006. Following a brief spelling as goalkeeper coach at QPR, Ed currently does some media work, voicing his opinion on the current Chelsea side on Talk Sport prior to the recent defeat to Manchester United.

RWB Dan Petresu – Fan’s favourite Dan Petrescu was sent off with five minutes to go in the final, however it had no bearing on the result. Signed from Sheffield Wednesday by Glenn Hoddle, his trickery, craft and eye for goal from either right back or the right of midfield lit up Stamford Bridge during a five year spell. The warmth the fans felt for him was reciprocated by the Romanian and he named one of his daughters Victoria Chelsea in homage to the club. However, following a dispute with manager Gianluca Vialli, Petrescu left for Bradford in 2000. Upon his return to the Bridge with the Bantams he was presented with a shield for becoming the first overseas player to play over 200 times for Chelsea.  After leaving Valley Parade Dan was briefly reunited with former manager Glenn Hoddle at Southampton, before returning to Romania and joining National Bucharest. Following hisretirement he has embarked on a successful management career winning the Romania league with Unirea Urziceni and the Russian 1st Division with current club Kuban Krasnodar.

CB Steve Clarke – Following an 11 year spell at the club and over 400 appearances Clarke retired at the end of the 1998 season, having won 3 major honours (and the Full Members Cup) during his time at the Bridge. Clarke joined former manager Ruud Gullit as his assistant at Newcastle the following season, however after Gullit was unable to bring the success to Tyneside that he brought to SW6, Clarke eventually returned to Chelsea. He first coached the youth team but eventually became Jose Mourinho’s assistant as the club won their first League title for 50 years and replicated the success a year later. Clarke left to join former team mate Gianfranco Zola at West Ham after being marginalised in Luiz Felipe Scolari’s brief tenure as manager at Stamford Bridge. After the pair were shown the door at the Boleyn Ground by Sullivan and Gold, Clarke spent six months out of the game before being hired by Liverpool to assist Kenny Dalglish, his appointment coinciding with an upturn in their form.

CB Frank Leboeuf – The CWC final was the start of successful summer for Leboeuf who went on to win the World Cup for France on home soil, replacing the suspended Lauren Blanc in the final. Known for his ability from the penalty spot, spectacular long range efforts and his ability pinpoint passing Leboeuf was a popular figure at the Bridge during his five year spell, amassing over 200 appearances and scoring 24 times. He returned to France with Marseille in 2001 before finishing his career in the Middle East. Leboeuf has followed former Chelsea midfielder Vinnie Jones to Hollywood and will soon be seen on the silver screen starring in Russian mafia film Ocean Hotel.

CB Michael Duberry – ‘Doobs’, as he was affectionately known, was a product of the youth team who first endeared himself to the Chelsea faithful with a headed goal in a 2-1 at Old Trafford in 1996 and went on to play 115 times for the blues. However, a year after the final, following a season playing second fiddle to world cup winning duo Marcel Desailly and Frank Leboeuf he left the Bridge for Leeds. His career in Yorkshire did not work out as Doobs had wanted, after he was unfairly marginalised by David O’Leary after becoming embroiled in the Bowyer and Woodgate scandal. A somewhat nomadic few years followed with spells at Stoke, Reading and Wycombe before Duberry linked up with former Chelsea colleague Jody Morris at St Johnstone. Still plying his trade north of the border Michael was voted The Perthshire Advertisers player of the year for the 2010/11 season and can often be found on twitter (@Original_Dubes).

LWB Danny Granville – Granville was signed from Cambridge at the start of the season, Granville scored en route to the final with a Gazza-esque finish against Slovan Bratislava. It proved to be his only goal for the club as he left at the end of the season for Leeds, citing a need for regular first team football. Danny was soon on the move again joining Man City a year later after less than 10 league appearances for the Elland Road side. He remained at Maine Road for two years before joining Crystal Palace following a loan spell at Norwich. It was at Palace where Granville’s career gained some stability as he remained with the Eagles for six seasons before heading east to join Colchester United. A spell at Leyton Orient followed before Danny dropped down to the Non-League Hemel Hempstead Town.

CM Dennis Wise – until recently the clubs most successful Captain, aside from this victory, Wise also won 2 FA Cups, The League Cup, The European Super Cup and The Charity Shield whilst wearing the armband. He seemed set to see out his career at the Bridge and then join the clubs coaching staff, however after falling out with Vialli’s replacement as manager – Claudio Ranieri – in 2001 wise was sold to Leicester for £1.5 after nearly 450 appearances and 76 goals for Chelsea. His period at Leicester was less successful and after breaking defender Callum Davidson’s jaw on a pre-season tour he was released. A player-manager spell at Millwall followed, where he led the Lions to the FA Cup Final and into Europe for the first time in history. After leaving The Den he briefly played for both Southampton and Coventry before taking the reins at Swindon. After a successful first half of the season in Wiltshire, Wise joined former Chairman Ken Bates at Leeds but could not save them from relegation to the third tier of English football for the first time in their history. However despite a strong start to the following season, with the Leeds top on Boxing Day, Dennis joined Newcastle as an Executive Director in January 2008. His spell at Newcastle was fraught, unfairly vilified by their supporters for being part of a ‘cockney mafia’ that led to the departure of Gallowgate hero Kevin Keegan as manager. Wise left St James in April 2009 and can be seen intermittently as a pundit on Sky.

CM Roberto Di Matteo – remembered more for his final heroics
at Wembley, where he scored twice in FA Cup Finals, including the fastest Cup
Final goal at the old stadium, and once in the League Cup final, Di Matteo was
also an integral part of the side that won the Cup Winners Cup.  Unfortunately, two years later in another European game, away to St Gallen, Di Matteo broke his leg and he never full yrecovered and the injury forced him to retire at the relatively young age of 31 in 2002. However, at the end of that season he led the side out to chants of ‘there’s only one Di Matteo’ for the Cup Final against Arsenal at the Millennium Stadium. In 2008, alongside former midfield team mate Eddie Newton, Roberto took over from Paul Ince at MK Dons leading the team to the play offs, where another former team mate Tore Andre Flo missed the decisive penalty in the semi-finals. Nevertheless, having impressed in Milton Keynes he was appointed as manager of West Brom at the end of the season, leading the Midland side to promotion to the Premier League in his first season. Despite shipping six goals at The Bridge on the first day of the season Di Matteo’s charges enjoyed a fine start to the season, including a victory away to Arsenal. However, when form dipped Di Matteo was harshly disposed of by the Albion board and replaced by Roy Hodgson.

CM Gustavo Poyet – Poyet was an immensely popular figure in
his time at Stamford Bridge, with both his fellow players and the fans. An
attacking midfielder, Poyet scored many memorable and spectacular goals,
including the winner against Real Madrid in the Super Cup, a scissor kick on
the opening day of the season against Sunderland, and both goals in the FA Cup
Semi Final against Newcastle. However, Poyet’s popularity, amongst the fans
anyway, diminished after he moved to rivals Tottenham, after falling out of
favour under Claudio Ranieri. Incensed by what was perceived as excessive
celebrations when substituted in Tottenham’s 5-1 victory in the League Cup Semi
Final at White Hart Lane, Poyet was roundly booed upon his return to the
Bridge. Following his retirement he has entered management, firstly as an assistant to Dennis Wise at Swindon and Leeds and Juande Ramos at Spurs and then as manager of Brighton where he has lead the club to promotion in the
Championship. Poyet recently said he would like to return to Chelsea as manager
one day, however there would be hostility from some sections of the crowd to
his appointment.

CF Tore Andre Flo – Despite being seen as a super sub for
the majority of his Chelsea career Flo started the final against Stuttgart
making way for Gianfranco Zola in the 70th minute. Flo had scored
some vital goals that season including a brace away to Betis in the same
competition and a hat-trick at White Hart Lane in a 6-1 league victory that is
still sung about at Stamford Bridge to this day. He continued to score
regularly over the next couple of seasons, including a brace against Barcelona
in a memorable Champions League tie, but he was unable to shake off his super
sub reputation. His last goals for Chelsea were against Manchester United where
he scored 2 in a 3-3 draw, Claudio Ranieri’s first game as manager.  He was then sold to Glasgow Rangers for a club record fee of 12m. Despite scoring more than a goal every other game Flo was not a popular figure at Ibrox and left after two years for Sunderland. Flo scored on his debut for the Black Cats, but struggled thereafter in a system designed for a target man. Spells in Italy with Sienna and back in Norway followed before Flo moved back to England to help former team-mates first Dennis Wise at Leeds, before retiring only to come out of retirement again to assist Di Matteo at MK Dons, retiring again at the end of the 2008/2009 season. Flo set up football academies throughout Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey in 2010, however, it is rumoured in Norway that he is to return home and come out of retirement once more with first club Sogndal.

CF Gianluca Vialli – Vialli had not long taken over from Ruud Gullit – sacked by Ken Bates over a contract dispute – when the club reached the European Cup Winners Cup Final, his second trophy as a manager, having also lead the cup to a League Cup triumph at Wembley against Middlesbrough early in his tenure. The following season his success continued as the club beat Real Madrid in the Super Cup for his third trophy as a manager, and reached the Champions League for the first time. Vialli played his final game for the club that season scoring in a victory against Derby. The next year the club reached the quarter finals of the Champions League and won the FA Cup for the second time in 4 seasons, but finished fifth in the league and failed to qualify for the Champions League. In the summer Vialli recruited several big names including Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and again won silverware, in the shape of the Charity Shield, following a comprehensive victory over Manchester United at Wembley. However following a disappointing start to the season and talk of infighting in the club, Vialli was sacked. He returned to management the next season with Watford but left after one indifferent season and now works mainly as a pundit for Italian TV. Vialli has spoken of his desire to return to Stamford Bridge, and believes it is his destiny to manage Chelsea again.

Sub Gianfranco Zola – The diminutive Italian will go down in Chelsea folklore not just for the winning goal in this final but for being one of the greatest players in the clubs history. In a seven year career at Stamford Bridge, Zola made 312 appearances and scored 80 goals, the last of these appearances coming as a cameo against Liverpool when the club secured Champions League football, a key factor in Roman Abramovich deciding to purchase the club. Abramovich tried to convice Zola to stay the next season, but having already given his word to Cagliari that he’d sign for them Zola left to join the club he’d supported as a boy. He played on for two more years in Italy, inspiring the Sardinian side to promotion to Serie A.  After retiring he was appointed assistant to former Chelsea colleague Pierluigi Casaraghi who managed the Italian U21s, he then returned to London as manager of West Ham with Steve Clarke as his assistant. After a successful first season in which the Irons finished 8th, Zola’s side struggled in his second year and just beat the drop. At the end of the season Zola was sacked and replaced by former Chelsea manager Avram Grant. It has recently been rumoured that Zola will return to Chelsea in a coaching capacity, in a move that would be sure to delight the fans.

By Callum West


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