Wednesday, December 26, 2012

26 December 1999 - Chelsea Flows Over Southampton

On 26 December 1999, Chelsea became the first British team to field an all-foreign starting XI. And it worked out pretty well for them.

The occasion was a Premier League match against Southampton at the Dell. The line-up decision was not entirely in the hands of manager Gianluca Vialli, as a breakout of the flu deprived him of several regular selections, including striker Chris Sutton and midfielder Dennis Wise, both of whom were English internationals (Wise was the club's player of the year in 1998).

To fill in the gaps, Vialli fielded a starting eleven that consisted of Ed De Goey (Netherlands), Albert Ferrer (Spain), Frank Leboeuf (France), Emerson Thome (Brazil), Dan Petrescu (Romania), Celestine Babyaro (Nigeria), Gus Poyet (Uruguay), Didier Deschamps (France), Roberto Di Matteo (Italy), Gabriele Ambrosetti (Italy), and Tore André Flo (Norway). It was the the first time in the history of British football that a team put out a starting line-up without a single British player.

Chelsea went on to win 1-2, with Flo (pictured) scoring both of their goals (18', 43'), while Southampton's goal was an 80th-minute consolation strike from Kevin Davies.

The all-international eleven ended in the 74th minute, when Vialli brought Englishman Jon Harley on for Ambrosetti (and then Jody Morris, another Englishman, came on for Petrescu in the 87th minute).

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