Now, as we all know, Chelsea didn’t actually exist until Roman Abramovich bought the club. They won zero trophies and had to buy the league title. Just ask any rival fan.
It’s all true, just as long as you ignore the years of history and numerous pieces of silverware, such as the 1998 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup.
Beginning the season led by the legendary Ruud Gullit, a Chelsea side which featured the likes of Dennis Wise, Roberto Di Matteo and current assistant manager strolled through the early stages of the Cup Winners’ Cup, which eventually became today’s Europa League.
They cruised through the early rounds against Slovan Bratislava and Tromsø, including a memorable 7-1 victory over the latter which featured goals from Franck Leboeuf, Dan Petrescu, Gianfranco Zola and Gianluca Vialli.
It was a hectic year for Vialli, who actually became the club’s player manager in February 1998 after Gullit’s abrupt departure. It was chaotic behind the scenes, but times were all good on the pitch. Vialli led his side past Real Betis and Vincenza to book a place in the final, sealing a date with Stuttgart on 13 May 1998 at Råsunda Stadium in Stockholm.
On that day, the iconic Zola was only fit enough for a place on the bench, but it was hoped that the likes of Tore André Flo and Gus Poyet would be able to steer Chelsea to glory.
The Blues dominated possession and could have made the breakthrough on a number of occasions, but found themselves still tied at 0-0 when the 71st minute arrived. To save the day, on came Zola.
Seconds later, the diminutive Italian found himself through on goal following an excellent pass from Wise, and with just his second touch of the game, Zola fired home the crucial goal to give Chelsea the win.
Some of the club’s greatest ever players wore this iconic shirt, and you can pick it up from the Chelsea Megastore for £35.