Chelsea’s crazy summer transfer window remembered when Roman Abramovich signed 13 players in 2003

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FLASHBACK

Having been rescued from the brink of oblivion, anything seemed possible and it heralded a new era at Stamford Bridge under Roman Abramovich

Glen Johnson has announced he is retiring from football.

It doesn’t seem that long ago when Chelsea splashed out £6m on a then 18-year-old Johnson, taking him from West Ham to Stamford Bridge in 2003.

Johnson was 18 when Chelsea signed him in 2003 and he stayed to win the Premier League and League Cup with the Blues

Johnson was 18 when Chelsea signed him in 2003 and he stayed to win the Premier League and League Cup with the Blues

That summer was an eventful one for the Blues. Back then, Chelsea were on the edge of a financial abyss, deeply in debt and praying that Champions League football would help the club to stave off oblivion.

Then Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich came to the rescue. It is said he was convinced to buy the club from Ken Bates on 1 July, after the Blues nabbed the final Champions League qualifying spot at Liverpool’s expense with a 2-1 win.

Roman Abramovich paid Ken Bates £140m for Chelsea

Roman Abramovich paid Ken Bates £140m for Chelsea

He cleared debt and suddenly, not only were the Blues saved from going to the wall, the club launched an unprecedented spending spree that heralded an era of success to rival the biggest clubs in England and Europe.

Now, fans who had given up supporting the club during its bleaker years, were returning to Stamford Bridge and, as you might expect, success also attracted new supporters.

Chelsea’s fanbase has grown hugely since 2003

Chelsea’s fanbase has grown hugely since 2003

Take a look at the incredible list of players they signed that summer.

Jürgen Macho was signed on 1 July 2003 from Sunderland on a free transfer

Jürgen Macho was signed on 1 July 2003 from Sunderland on a free transfer – The Austrian goalkeeper arrived shortly before Abramovich’s takeover, at a time when Chelsea were teetering on the brink, financially. Macho was second-choice shot stopper at the Stadium of Light, and had made 22 Premier League appearances for the club, though he wouldn’t feature in a single match for the Blues before leaving in 2004. Little did Chelsea fans know that Macho’s low key arrival was about to be overshadowed by a glut of super signings.

Marco Ambrosio was also signed on 1 July 2003, from Chievo, on a free transfer

Marco Ambrosio was also signed on 1 July 2003, from Chievo, on a free transfer – Another goalkeeper arrival before Abramovich officially took over, Ambrosio had been capped at U21 level by Italy and was intended to be an understudy to his compatriot Carlo Cudicini. He lasted just a season at the Bridge, but did play in the memorable 2-1 Champions League quarter-final win against Arsenal at Highbury.

Glen Johnson signed on 15 July 2003, from West Ham, for £6m

Glen Johnson signed on 15 July 2003, from West Ham, for £6m – Johnson was just 18 when he signed on the dotted line from relegated West Ham.

Geremi signed on 16 July 2003, from Real Madrid, for £7m

Geremi signed on 16 July 2003, from Real Madrid, for £7m – Cameroon international Geremi was snapped up after a season on loan in the Premier League with Middlesbrough.

Wayne Bridge signed on 21 July 2003, from Southampton, for £7m

Wayne Bridge signed on 21 July 2003, from Southampton, for £7m – Like Johnson, but on the opposite flank, Bridge was a highly rated young full-back when Chelsea swooped for his signature.

Damien Duff signed on 21 July 2003, from Blackburn Rovers, for £17m

Damien Duff signed on 21 July 2003, from Blackburn Rovers, for £17m – Now the big spending went into overdrive, as talented attacker Duff was lured to the Bridge for a big fee.

Joe Cole and Juan Sebastian Veron signed on 6 August 2003, from West Ham for £6.6m and Manchester United for £15m, respectively

Joe Cole and Juan Sebastian Veron signed on 6 August 2003, from West Ham for £6.6m and Manchester United for £15m, respectively – A double whammy, Cole arrived as one of the hottest prospects in English football, while Veron was an immense talent who had won the title with Man United, if not won over the doubters that he could shine in the Premier League.

Adrian Mutu signed on 12 August 2003, from Parma, for £15.8m

Adrian Mutu signed on 12 August 2003, from Parma, for £15.8m – Next up, Chelsea signed an attacker who’d been tearing up Serie A.

Alexey Smertin signed on 25 August 2003, from Bordeaux, for £3.45m

Alexey Smertin signed on 25 August 2003, from Bordeaux, for £3.45m – One for Roman? Russian international Smertin was signed as the month was drawing to a close. But there was more to come…

Hernan Crespo signed on 26 August 2003, from Inter, for £16.8m

Hernan Crespo signed on 26 August 2003, from Inter, for £16.8m – World class striker Crespo arrived to bolster the Blues’ attack.

Neil Sullivan signed on 29 August 2003, from Tottenham, for £500,000

Neil Sullivan signed on 29 August 2003, from Tottenham, for £500,000 – Another goalkeeper! Sullivan was tempted from Tottenham, to provide competition for Cudicini.

Claude Makelele signed on 31 August 2003, from Real Madrid, for £16m

Claude Makelele signed on 31 August 2003, from Real Madrid, for £16m – And finally, Madrid man Makelele came on the last day of August, taking Chelsea’s spending to over £110m, which was huge money in 2003.



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