Monday, May 4, 2009

Chelsea's 1997 FA Cup Winning Side - Where Are They Now?

The 1997 FA Cup Final took place on 17 May 1997 at Wembley Stadium and was won by Chelsea with a 2–0 victory over Middlesbrough. Chelsea were attempting to win their first FA Cup final for 27 years, while Middlesbrough were contesting their first ever final. Chelsea took to the field on the back of something of a renaissance under Dutch manager Ruud Gullit, having recorded their best league finish for a decade. Chelsea's victory meant that Gullit was the first foreign or non-white manager to win a major trophy with an English club. Since winning the FA Cup Final, Chelsea have played in Europe ever since. This was a significant period in Chelsea FC's history, a resurgence of fortune which put Chelsea on the football radar.

The Chelsea winning team which took to the field on that fateful day were,
Manager: Ruud Gullit
GK 30 Frode Grodås
CB 6 Steve Clarke
CB 5 Frank Leboeuf
CB 20 Frank Sinclair
RWB 2 Dan Petrescu

LWB 17 Scott Minto
CM 11 Dennis Wise
CM 16 Roberto Di Matteo
CM 24 Eddie Newton
CF 10 Mark Hughes
CF 25 Gianfranco Zola
GK 13 Kevin Hitchcock
DF 8 Andy Myers
FW 9 Gianluca Vialli

But where are they now?
Ruud Gullit has been a largely unsuccessful coach adding more substance to the fact that highly talented players rarely succeed in making a successful step up into football management. Nevertheless his reputation as a manager was cemented at Chelsea but his formula for success could not be replicated elsewhere. He is currently a soccer analyst on Sky Sports during Champions League nights.

Frode Grodås tried management back in Norway but did not get very far with it. He is now a goalkeeping coach at Lillestrøm SK, a club now managed by former Blackburn and Man Utd defender Henning Berg.

Steve Clarke stayed at Chelsea and went on to become an integral part of the Jose Mourinho era as assistant manager. Has now moved on to form a double act with Gianfranco Zola at West Ham United.

Frank Leboeuf spent some time back in France with Marseille and Qatar with Al Saad before calling it quits. He can be found now developing a new career as an actor in Hollywood Hills, following the footsteps of Vinnie Jones. Apart from that, he still plays 7-a-side soccer with Hollywood United, a celebrity soccer team in LA. Has appeared in one movie to date, Taking Sides.

Frank Sinclair is still plying his trade in the lower leagues of English football. He is now 37 years old and still going strong. He now plays League Two football for Wycombe Wanderers on loan from Lincoln City.

Dan Petrescu was very popular with the Chelsea fans during his time there. He is now a manager back in Romania with reportedly solid managerial credentials. Don't think we will see him in the Premier League anytime soon, however he could be in line for a future return to his old club, Steaua Bucharest.

Scott Minto is now giving something back to his local community, spending one day a week ferrying passengers to and from Rotherham hospice as a voluntary unpaid driver. Minto also regularly reports from live football games for Sky Sports, and occasionally makes appearances commenting on games from the studio for Soccer Saturday. He also appears on talkSPORT's Evening Kick-Off show from time to time as co-presenter, and has also worked as a pundit for BBC London 94.9's live football commentaries.

Needless to say, we all know about Dennis Wise and the circus that is Newcastle. Having made a bit of a name for himself as a manager, he tried to cut his teeth as a more influential boardroom type figure as Newcastle's Director of Football. The fans and Kevin Keegan didn't like it, Dennis the Menace was eventually hounded out of Tyneside. Nevertheless as a manager, he was rather decent, with 92 wins out of 205 games for a win percentage of 46.3%.

Roberto Di Matteo also tried his luck at management. Took over the reins of MK Dons when Paul Ince left to take charge of Blackburn Rovers. Has been successful as manager (win percentage 55%) and is looking likely to take MK Dons into the Football League Championship next season.

Eddie Newton retired from competitive football due to a knee injury and converted to Islam and married his Turkish/Swedish wife Zeliha Newton in 2003. He is a business director of New Vision Sports Ltd, which offers grass root multi sports for children, after school clubs, personal training and holiday schemes. Newton also hosted Football Icon 1 and 2 alongside Jamie Redknapp. On 2 July 2008 he was appointed assistant manager to Roberto Di Matteo at MK Dons. Prior to that, he was the Under-16 youth team coach in Chelsea.

Mark Hughes' career as a manager has been well-documented. After successes as Wales manager, he went on to achieve great progress in Blackburn Rovers, showing an eye for bargains as proven by the acquisition of Roque Santa Cruz. Could not resist a move to Manchester City and is now trying to preside over very exciting and high pressure times in the blue half of Manchester. May not survive the trials and tribulations in City as his motives may never be trusted, having played for the Red Devils.

Gianfranco Zola left Chelsea for the Italian life with Cagliari. He then retired, became a pundit and in 2006, teamed up with Pierluigi Casiraghi to coach the Italian Under-21s. We all know now that he has transformed West Ham this season as part of a double act with fellow former Chelsea team mate, Steve Clarke.

Kevin Hitchcock is currently a goalkeeping coach at Manchester City, having followed ex-team mate, Hughes.

Andy Myers has completely assimilated into the real world after being laid off by Brentford in 2005.

Since that year, Gianluca Viali was made player-manager of Chelsea and went on to collect a number of trophies as Chelsea manager. Actually had a very decent win percentage (53.15%) as manager. Having said that, he could not sustain his impressive managerial career as he faltered at Watford and now works as a football commentator for Sky Italia.

Hmmm, maybe it's just a coincidence but 12 members of the 15 former Chelsea players are now managers and coaches. I wonder if that's the same statistics to be found in other famous cup winning sides. Will be looking into that for sure.


Anonymous said...

This I must say is a very good article. In fact, you should have more of these types of articles "where are they now?". For once the Prophet is stumped by the quality of the article. Kudos !!!

The Prophet

FanZine said...

Thanks thanks, you can find the same article in Bleacher Report. Am planning more "where are they now" for sure. Keep a lookout for them in future.

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