Chelsea: A New Face
I was fully aware from my desk at Chelsea’s state of the art training ground that I was in an amazing position. The number of incredible players and managers who had been at this club was truly astonishing. Players like Ruud Gullit, Gianfranco Zola and Frank Lampard had all graced the turf at Stamford Bridge, while Tommy Doherty, Carlo Ancelotti and, of course, Jose Mourinho had led the club to trophies.
I intended to be the next to do so.
As the vast swathes of media arrived in Cobham expecting to hear of an extension to Jose Mourinho’s contract, I prepared confidently for the challenge ahead. The challenge to take Chelsea to continued success, both domestically and in Europe. The challenge to build a new squad of young, exciting talent. The challenge to earn the respect of football fans around the world, and establish ourselves as the world’s best. These were bold claims for a 39 year-old Londoner who had no previous experience of management, or even professional football.
So how did someone like me end up in charge of one of the reigning English champions? Simple. Pure luck. I just happened to bump into a lost Roman Abramovich in London, and when he asked for directions to high-end restaurant Zuma, I simply gave him some ideas for his football club. Since then, Mourinho had been arrested for drink-driving, and his downfall continued when allegations of tax avoidance had been set against him. Abramovich then fired him, before he called the number that I had scrawled onto the corner of the map I had drawn him. That was how, in early July 2015, I was preparing to kick off my career as manager of Chelsea Football Club.