Former Chelsea player and manager Ruud Gullit has claimed that it was Roberto Di Matteo who put the Londoners on the map of international football – not current Blues boss Jose Mourinho.
Gullit, who led Chelsea to FA Cup success in 1997, believes that only clubs who have won Europe's elite club competition can truly gain international recognition as a major force in world football. Mourinho led the Stamford Bridge club to its first top-flight title success in 50 years in 2004/05, with the Portuguese boss overseeing three of Chelsea's five title wins to date.
However, Di Matteo was at the helm as caretaker boss following the dismissal of Andre Villas-Boas when Chelsea won the Champions League for the first time in 2012, defeating Bundesliga side Bayern Munich on penalties in the Germans' own Allianz Arena. Gullit believes it was this victory more than anything else which established Chelsea's reputation as a big name on the global stage.
"I think that Robbie Di Matteo put Chelsea on the map of international football," Gullit told media ahead of his appearance as an ambassador for Carlsberg during the Premier League trophy's visit to Dublin on Wednesday. "He is very responsible for that, and now Chelsea has a different aura around it because of that.
"If you want to have international acceptance in the big teams, you need to win the Champions League. You can win whatever you like, but if you don't win the Champions League you're not going to be able to be mentioned among the big teams.
"Whatever happened with Liverpool, even when they have a bad season, Liverpool is one of the biggest clubs because of what happened in the past, the five European Cups they won. Same with Bayern Munich, same with Real Madrid, same with Barcelona."
Continue reading Ruud Gullit's thoughts on the shaping of Chelsea's legacy on Extratime.ie.