Chelsea have brought in a plethora of foreign talent to the Premier League, especially since Roman Abramovich took over the club in 2003. The likes of Petr Cech, Didier Drogba, Eden Hazard and Gianfranco Zola have arrived at Stamford Bridge from abroad and established themselves as club legends.
Chelsea have also been home to some brilliant English players
Apart from foreign imports, Chelsea have also had some of the best English players play for them over the years. The likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole come to mind when thinking about the best English players to have plied their trade at Stamford Bridge.
But Chelsea have also had plenty of other English players during the 20th century who have earned success at the club. On that note, here's a look at the five greatest English players in Chelsea history.
Honourable mention - Ron Harris (Chelsea's highest appearance-maker).
#5 Bobby Tambling (1959 - 1970)
For almost half a century, Bobby Tambling held the record as Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer, scoring 202 goals from 370 appearances.
It took only 14 minutes for the 17-year-old to mark his debut with a goal against West Ham United in February 1959.
Having been entrusted with the captaincy at 21, Tambling led Chelsea to promotion in 1963, and fired a four-goal haul during the crucial final game of that season, one of eight hat-tricks Tambling scored for the club. He once netted five goals away at Aston Villa, equalling the club record for a league game, and four against Arsenal at Highbury.
Bobby Tambling was the first to score in a major cup final for Chelsea, the League Cup in 1965, which Chelsea won for their first major knockout trophy. He was also the first Chelsea player to score in an FA Cup final, when he did so in 1967.
Though his overall goal tally for Chelsea was eventually surpassed by Frank Lampard in 2013, Tambling remains the highest scorer for Chelsea in league matches with 164 goals to his name.
#4 Peter Bonetti (1959 - 1975 & 1976 - 1979)
Famously known as 'The Cat', Peter Bonetti was arguably the best goalkeeper at Chelsea before Petr Cech, and is second on the list of all-time appearances for the Blues. He played 729 times during his stint at Chelsea.
Bonetti did not fit the stereotypical mould of a big, tall, imposing goalkeeper. He was just 5' 10", and weighed around 150 pounds for much of his career. Playing in the physical English league during the 60s and 70s is a testament to how good Bonetti was. He managed to rack up over 700 appearances, and was viewed as one of the best goalkeepers in the league.
Bonetti was someone who was ahead of his time, focusing on quick distribution, something that has become common in today's game. He was brave and agile, and also strong and resilient. His performance in the 1970 FA Cup final against Leeds was one of the best in the history of the competition, as it finally brought the trophy back to west London.
Bonetti sadly passed away in April last year, but Chelsea fans still reminisce about one of their greatest ever goalkeepers.
#3 Peter Osgood (1964 - 1974 & 1978 - 1980)
The only Chelsea player to have a statue outside Stamford Bridge, Peter Osgood made quite an impact during his time at the club.
Like Didier Drogba many decades later, Osgood had the talent to score in key games, netting in major cup finals three seasons in a row. He helped Chelsea win the European Cup Winner's Cup, scoring in the final, as well as the replay of the final, where the Blues held off the mighty Real Madrid. He also won the English League Cup in 1965 and the FA Cup in 1970.
His performances were even more impressive considering the fact that Osgood suffered a broken leg in 1966. Considered a serious injury even now, back then it was more worrying, as it would often lead to retirement or a sharp decline in footballing prowess. Fortunately for Osgood, that wasn't the case, as he kept scoring the goals that led to his lofty place in Chelsea folklore.
Osgood was sold by the club in 1974 to Southampton before he returned for a brief spell at the end of his career. By the time he retired, Osgood had made 380 appearances for the club, scoring 150 goals.
'The Wizard of Os', as he is fondly remembered, deserves his place on any list of Chelsea's greatest players, let alone a list of Chelsea's best English players.
#2 Frank Lampard (2001 - 2014)
Already an established Premier League midfielder when he joined Chelsea, Frank Lampard took his game to new heights at the Blues, becoming the club's all-time top scorer during an incredible 13-year spell.
Lampard played a key role in Chelsea’s remarkable run of trophy successes from 2005 to 2013. He scored the goal that sealed the league title for the first time in half a century for Chelsea, and later added an FA Cup final win at Wembley.
He netted in the Blues' first Champions League final in 2008, was a supreme penalty taker, and no one played more games in the league and cup campaigns that yielded Chelsea's 2010 double. Lampard jointly lifted European trophies with John Terry in 2012 and 2013, having led the team on the pitch in successive finals.
Renowned for his peerless ability to find space in the area, and then the net, Lampard eclipsed Bobby Tambling’s long-standing Chelsea record of 202 goals, before leaving in 2014 after scoring 211 times.
Lampard had a trophy-laden career at Chelsea, winning three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups, as well as one Europa League and Champions League title.
A three-time Chelsea Player of the Year, Lampard was named the Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year in 2005, and was also the runner-up in the Ballon d'Or race that year.
Lampard's 13 years at the Bridge means he is one of the finest players in Chelsea’s history, and many say he's the best midfielder in Premier League history as well.
#1 John Terry (1999 - 2017)
'Captain, Leader, Legend', John Terry was 'Mr. Chelsea', a player who progressed from the youth level to the senior ranks. Terry made his first-team debut at the age of 17, in a League Cup tie against Aston Villa.
What followed next was a near 20-year run at the club, where Terry would go on to establish himself as not only one of the greatest Chelsea players of all time, but also one of the best defenders the Premier League has ever seen.
During his time at Chelsea, Terry led the club to five Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, one Europa League, and famously, one Champions League, where he helped to banish the demons from his penalty-shootout miss in 2008.
John Terry was named the UEFA Club Defender of the Year on three occasions, and was named in the FIFPro World XI for five consecutive seasons. He was also named the PFA Players' Player of the Year in 2005.
Terry was an incredible reader of the game, and a gifted passer, often proving to be the catalyst for the club's attacks, especially under Jose Mourinho. The defender was also known for scoring goals; he's the highest-scoring defender in Chelsea's history, netting 41 times in all competitions.
Terry was disliked by plenty of opposition fans, who perhaps begrudgingly knew just how good he was. He was a mainstay of the club's defence, forming some incredible partnerships during his time there. No wonder Terry is seen as one of the best ever to don Chelsea's famous royal blue jersey.