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The One That Got Away

By Dean Mears of Went to mow Kingsmeadow

You all probably remember back in 2008, when Chelsea, put replica shirts with ‘Robinho’ on the back, for supporters to buy. The then chief executive, Peter Kenyon, was confident of securing the deal to bring the Brazilian to West London from Real Madrid, but in a last-minute twist, Real Madrid actually agreed a deal with newly rich Manchester City.

Even Robinho at the time had no idea he was signing for City, partly due to the fact he would never have even heard of them, so the deal was kept from him, and Chelsea, until it was too late for either party to do anything about it.

Memories of this late drama have been brought back following the recent Jules Kounde ‘drama’, with Chelsea seemingly having the deal done, before a late swoop from FC Barcelona, seeing Chelsea miss out on one of their defensive targets.

However, if you’re looking for the ultimate, “the one that got away” story, then you need to look at the Chelsea FC Women’s team.

Alex Scott (c) Getty Images

Back in 2005, Chelsea’s women’s team had been brought under the Chelsea Foundation umbrella, meaning for the first time since their creation in 1992, that they were truly part of Chelsea Football Club.

The team were managed at that point by George Michaelas, who had taken over from Stephen Leacock, after a successful spell managing the club’s youth teams.

Michaelas had guided the team into the first division, and had Scott, in his café, agreeing to join Chelsea after deciding to leave Birmingham City, whom she had joined the previous year after leaving Arsenal. Scott had already broken into the England team at this stage and was well on her way to becoming one of the countries best players.

There was one slight problem though, Arsenal, still the dominant women’s team in this era, had also made an offer to Scott to re-join them. The offer from Arsenal was slightly more than what Chelsea were offering and Michaelas revealed in a recent interview just how close the club had come to signing Scott.

“I remember I had Alex Scott sitting in my café, trying to sign her, and I had Shaun Gore on the other end of the phone, and I can’t really remember the figures, but I think it was something like he was prepared to offer £100, and she was on [had been offered] £150 a game at Arsenal
“And he just said, ‘no we haven’t got the money I’m afraid’ and I had to say to her sorry I can’t sign you; I can’t match what Arsenal are giving you at the moment.”

Chelsea, as a football club, were Champions of England at this stage, Jose Mourinho and his mega rich squad had stormed through English football, yet here was the women’s team manager, trying to sign an England international, and the club couldn’t afford to offer a player an extra £50 per game.

This obviously was a big frustration for Michaelas, who after leading the club to the Premier Division, was trying to improve the squad.

“That’s what we needed [a stellar signing] once we got into the Premiership because I hadn’t made any signings in that first 4 or 5 weeks when we got into the Prem, because we couldn’t attract anybody, moneywise.”

Scott wasn’t the only player that Michaelas tried to sign, the former Chelsea manager also revealed he tried to sign Eni Aluko, who would eventually join the club, and to re-sign Fara Williams, who had been discovered by Chelsea as a 14-year-old, before going on to have a long and successful career.

Michaelas left the club not long into the 2005/2006 season, and the team stagnated in the Premier Division, as the club ownership continued to neglect them financially.

Scott went on to become an England and Arsenal legend, playing 140 games for her country, as well as having a spell in the United States, and is widely regarded as one of the best ever England players.

The 37-year-old is also now a familiar face on our television screens and was a main pundit for the BBC during the recent UEFA Women’s European Championships.

And now, for Chelsea fans, she’ll be known as the one that got away.

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