Modern football is so heavily dominated by swirls of complexity and tactical planning that one often tends to forget the simpler aspects of the sport. With former Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, however, the intricacies of modern football made way for a swashbuckling breath of fresh air on the pitch.
Hasselbaink occupies a special place in Blues’ hearts for the joy he brought to Stamford Bridge. In the latest edition of the series ‘Legends of the Bridge’, Bollywood superstar and lifelong Chelsea fan Arjun Kapoor pays a heartfelt tribute to the fiery Chelsea legend.
Hasselbaink did not have the easiest of childhoods and viewed the beautiful game as a source of solace. The Suriname-born striker plied his trade in the Netherlands with AZ Alkmaar before completing successful stints with Leeds United and Atletico Madrid. Hasselbaink was particularly effective at Leeds United and fired the Yorkshire giants to a fourth-place finish.
It was at Chelsea, however, that Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink truly found his feet. The Blues were looking to begin the new millennium with a fresh source of inspiration and Hasselbaink was the ideal fit. The striker was already well-versed with the nuances of the Premier League and made the best possible start to his Chelsea career.
Manchester United was the proverbial powerhouse of the Premier League at the time and the emergence of Chelsea as a modern force in English football was often treated with disdain by members of the old guard. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink made his indelible mark on a budding rivalry between Chelsea and Manchester United by scoring against the Red Devils on his Blues debut in a famous FA Charity Shield victory.
The year 2000 sparked the beginning of an intriguing transition at Chelsea, with Claudio Ranieri replacing the popular Gianluca Vialli as the head coach. Despite disagreements with the coaching staff at the time, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink won the coveted Golden Boot in his first season at Chelsea with an impressive 23 goals in 35 appearances in the Premier League.
The years that followed saw Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink become a cult favorite among Chelsea fans at Stamford Bridge. The gifted striker formed a legendary partnership with Eidur Gudjohnsen and the duo combined to score an astonishing 51 goals in the 2001-02 season. Hasselbaink was an explosive force on the pitch and his sheer power perfectly complemented the magic of Gianfranco Zola.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s career at Chelsea was marked by the influx of several European superstars. The former Leeds striker had to compete with the likes of Adrian Mutu and Hernan Crespo for a place in the Blues’ line-up and his limited playing time did not prevent him from becoming one of Chelsea’s most understated modern-day legends.