Last month I entered a competition on the official Chelsea website like many others to ‘Meet The Players’. Receiving an email last week to say I was one of the lucky 250 selected to attend the event left me buzzing! There was however an error initially with all winners being given both time slots. This was rectified by the club quite quickly.
A great opportunity to meet some of the current squad and a few legends of the late 1990s.
Me and Dennis Wise in the Chelsea players bar (1993)
I have many fond memories of sneaking into the players bar with my dad in the late 1980s and early 1990s and waiting after games for autographs. As top flight football has significantly changed over the years the chances of meeting the players is not like it used to be.
Despite my arrival slot being at 5:15pm I arrived at Stamford Bridge at 4:00pm. Although I attend most home games it’s always good having a look round when it’s quiet.
We started to form a queue round the back of the East Stand at around 4:45pm. It was starting to fill up with supporters who were obviously buzzing about meeting the players! Whilst in the queue I spoke to a guy who informed me there was over 70,000 entries for the competition and only 250 got randomly selected.
Stamford and Bridgette were there entertaining the crowd but I have to say there was a lot of waiting and it was absolutely freezing!
As we made our way to the function room (Stamford Bridge in full view) one of the ‘Bridge Team’ informed us that Gonzalo Higuain would not be attending as he was ill and missed training today.
It was actually 6:15pm by the time the players finally sat down to meet us all. I was second in the long queue and it was quickly apparent that Gianfranco Zola was also not there. He arrived later and I missed him which was the only disappointment although I have been lucky enough to meet him before.
It was great to meet all the players that attended this event. I spoke with Tore Andre Flo about his fantastic impact during 1997/99 and what a fantastic era it was for the club. Carlo Cudicini seemed nice and was appreciative when I said to him he was one of the best goalkeepers the club has ever had.
I didn’t say a great deal to Katie Chapman and Matteo Kovacic as I was thinking in my head what to ask the others! They were however happy to sign autographs and have photos taken.
When speaking with Olivier Giroud I said how important he can be to our season and to keep scoring goals in the Europa League! He said thank you and that he hopes he will.
Ross Barkley was on the very end and I knew what question I was going to ask him ever since I found out I was going to the event. I asked Ross if he scored at Goodison Park on Sunday would he celebrate. Ross smirked, thought about it for a few seconds and said ‘yes, I probably would to be honest’.
My last mention has to go to David Luiz. An absolute gentleman and was very much interacting with everyone. I thanked him for Munich and said how much admiration I have for him as a footballer. I was so caught up in what I was saying I completely forgot to get a picture. I obviously had to go back!
A great day at the Bridge and thank you to Chelsea FC for choosing me as one of the lucky one’s!
Written by Chris Wright