A non-British affair
Southampton 1 Chelsea 2
26th December 1999
Chelsea; Ed De Goey, Dan Petrescu (Jody Morris 87), Celestine Babayaro, Frank Leboeuf,
Didier Deschamps, Gus Poyet, Roberto Di Matteo, Albert Ferrer, Gabriele Ambrosetti (Jon
Harley 74), Tore Andre Flo, Emerson Thome
Scorer; Flo (2)
Booked; Babayaro, Deschamps, Ferrer, Leboeuf
Manager; Gianluca Vialli
Referee; Paul E Alcock
Boxing Day football has always been a tradition for many generations. Gone are the days
when teams would play on Christmas day and then travel to play the same team the next
day. The last time Chelsea played on Christmas Day was against Blackburn in 1958 with the
Blues winning 3-0 at Ewood Park. However, 41 years later a fixture played at The Dell on
Boxing Day set a precedent that is almost accepted without notable mention or surprise.
After recent wins in domestic and European competition as well as participation in the
Champions League Chelsea were able to attract more high profile players, including those
from abroad. Also, a number of other factors such as the removal of three foreigners rule
meant there was a much larger pool for teams to pick from worldwide. The Blues boasted a
number of international players including players from three different continents.
In the 1999/00 season Chelsea travelled to Southampton for a repeat of the previous year’s
Boxing Day fixture. However, Gianluca Vialli was without some key players including Dennis
Wise and Gianfranco Zola through illness. Also, Marcel Desailly and Jes Hogh were both
unavailable through injury. This did allow their new Brazilian defender, Emerson Thome, to
deputise in the heart of the defence. He became the first Brazilian to play for the club.
The starting line up for Chelsea was Ed de Goey (Holland), Dan Petrescu (Romania),
Celestine Babayaro (Nigeria), Frank Leboeuf (France), Didier Deschamps (France), Gus
Poyet (Uruguay), Roberto Di Matteo (Italy), Albert Ferrer (Spain), Gabriele Ambrosetti (Italy),
Tore Andre Flo (Norway) and Emerson Thome (Brazil). What made this team memorable
was that it was the first time in English football history that the entire team consisted entirely
of overseas players.
It was the Norwegian striker Flo who netted both Chelsea goals in the 2-1 win. The Blues
took a 2-0 lead into half time before Kevin Davies got one back for the Saints with ten
minutes to play. The game did not finish with 11 overseas players as Englishmen Jody
Morris and Jon Harley replaced Dan Petrescu and Gabriele Ambrosetti respectively. After
the game the Blues manager defended his decision on his team selection and stated that it
makes no difference as long as they speak the same language on the pitch.
In the following game there was another all overseas starting XI but it was Morris who will go
down in the record books as the player that scored the last Premier League goal before Y2K.