The Most Significant Moments of Roman Abramovich’s Time as Chelsea Owner

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich oversaw his 1,000th game as the Blues’ top dog on Sunday when his side faced Tottenham Hotspur.

There’s no denying that the Russian billionaire’s arrival at Stamford Bridge in 2003 changed football forever. Say what you want about his heavy spending, but you can’t argue with the historic results.

Let’s take a look back at some of the most memorable moments of Abramovich’s time at the Bridge.

Jesper Gronkjaer of Chelsea celebrates scoring the winning goalJesper Gronkjaer of Chelsea celebrates scoring the winning goal
Gronkjaer scored the most important goal in Chelsea history | Ben Radford/Getty Images

Any look back at the Abramovich era has to start on May 11, 2003, before the Russian billionaire had even bought the club.

In what was billed as the ‘£20m match’, Chelsea pipped Liverpool to the final Champions League spot courtesy of a 2-1 win, which saw Jesper Gronkjaer net the goal that sent them there.

With Chelsea now a club with real potential, Abramovich swooped in in July and bought the club, and the rest is history.

Jose Mourinho, Peter KenyonJose Mourinho, Peter Kenyon
Mourinho was the next big thing in 2004 | Ben Radford/Getty Images

Abramovich was not satisfied with a mediocre debut season and chose to part ways with manager Claudio Ranieri in favour of hiring the brightest managerial prospect around, Jose Mourinho.

Mourinho had just led Porto to Champions League glory, so bringing him in was a real signal of intent.

Didier DrogbaDidier Drogba
Drogba was one of several top signings | Jo Caird/Getty Images

This is when the party really got started. Abramovich brought out his chequebook and decided he was going to ruin football.

Paulo Ferreira, Petr Cech, Arjen Robben, Didier Drogba, Tiago and Ricardo Carvalho were the biggest names to arrive at Stamford Bridge, and their success has allowed fellow 2004 recruits Mateja Kezman, Jiri Jarosik and Nuno Morais to cling to relevancy after all these years.

Chelsea's Paulo Ferreira (L) and DidierChelsea's Paulo Ferreira (L) and Didier
Abramovich’s first trophy came in 2005 | JIM WATSON/Getty Images

The first trophy of the Abramovich era was the 2005 League Cup, which came back to the Bridge courtesy of a 3-2 win over Liverpool.

John Arne Riise gave Liverpool the lead after a matter of seconds, but a 79th-minute own goal from Steven Gerrard kick-started a period of madness, during which Mourinho was sent to the stands for shushing the Liverpool fans.

Drogba and Kezman both netted in extra-time, and Antonio Nunez’s header wasn’t enough to save Liverpool from defeat.

The game that showed the world that Chelsea weren’t messing about anymore.

After a 2-1 loss to Barcelona in the first leg of the Champions League last 16, Chelsea needed a miracle if they were to advance. Guess what happened next?

The Blues were three up after 19 minutes through Eidur Gudjohnsen, Frank Lampard and Damien Duff, and John Terry’s late header was enough to end a Barcelona fightback and steer Chelsea through to the next round.

Chelsea's Frank Lampard celebrates afterChelsea's Frank Lampard celebrates after
Lampard led Chelsea to glory | PAUL BARKER/Getty Images

Chelsea lifted their first Premier League title in April 2005 after flying to a 2-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers.

A nervy first half was followed by two Frank Lampard goals, etching Chelsea’s name on a league title for the first time in 50 years.

Nearly a year to the date after their first, Chelsea added their second title to the growing trophy cabinet.

The Blues needed just a point when Manchester United travelled to the Bridge, but they walked away with all three after goals from William Gallas, Joe Cole (a worldie) and Ricardo Carvalho.

Didier DrogbaDidier Drogba
Drogba was the saviour yet again | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

There was to be no third title, but Chelsea did at least add the FA Cup in Mourinho’s third season, in what was the first FA Cup final at the new Wembley.

Truth be told, it was pretty dull outside of Drogba’s extra-time winner, but it was still one for the history books.

Claudio Pizarro, Liam RidgewellClaudio Pizarro, Liam Ridgewell
Chelsea made league history | Phil Cole/Getty Images

Chelsea opened the 2007/08 season with a 3-2 win over Birmingham, which took the Blues to a record 64 consecutive home games without defeat.

However, conceding two at home to Birmingham tells you all you needed to know about Chelsea’s tricky form that year, and Mourinho was gone from the Bridge just one month later.

Cristiano RonaldoCristiano Ronaldo
The 2008 final ended in heartbreak | Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Abramovich came so close to winning his first European trophy in 2008, but a devastating slip from Terry in the penalty shoot-out handed Manchester United the Champions League trophy.

The Blues knew all about second place that year, finishing as runners-up in Europe, the Premier League, League Cup and Community Shield.

Daniel Agger, Nicolas AnelkaDaniel Agger, Nicolas Anelka
Chelsea’s home record ended | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The end of the record-setting home run.

After 86 games without defeat, a deflected strike from Xabi Alonso reminded Chelsea fans what it was like to lose a home game.

From a neutral perspective, April 2009’s 4-4 draw with Liverpool could well be the best game in the Abramovich era.

The Blues carried a 3-1 win into this quarter-final second leg but had seen their advantage evaporate after just 28 minutes, It took a second-half fightback from Drogba, Alex and Lampard to get things back on track.

Liverpool bagged two shortly after the 80th minute which made for a nervy finale, but a late strike from Lampard got the job done.

Chelsea's Captain John Terry (C) celebraChelsea's Captain John Terry (C) celebra
Chelsea won their first double | GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

Just a week after an 8-0 win over Wigan Athletic led Carlo Ancelotti’s side to another Premier League title, they completed their first league/FA Cup double a week later with a 1-0 win over Portsmouth.

Because it was a cup final at Wembley, Drogba took it upon himself to net the game’s only goal, capping off perhaps the finest season in Chelsea history.

Chelsea's British defender John Terry (CChelsea's British defender John Terry (C
Chelsea got their hands of Europe’s biggest prize | ADRIAN DENNIS/Getty Images

Four years after the heartbreak against United, Chelsea did bring Abramovich his first Champions League trophy against Bayern Munich.

The run to the final featured some outstanding performances against both Napoli and Barcelona, as Roberto Di Matteo’s side defied the odds time and time and time again.

Branislav IvanovicBranislav Ivanovic
Ivanovic made the best of a bad situation | Michael Regan/Getty Images

2012/13 wasn’t a happy year for the Blues, whose defence of their Champions League crown ended in comical fashion as they dropped out in the group stages and had to settle for a spot in Europa League.

Fortunately, the Blues won the whole thing, with a late header from Branislav Ivanovic ensuring Chelsea managed to add another new trophy to their cabinet.

Chelsea v SunderlandChelsea v Sunderland
Mourinho brought the title back to Chelsea | Tom Jenkins/Getty Images

After Mourinho had returned and rebuilt Chelsea in his own image, he led the Blues to yet another league title in 2014/15.

This triumph was decided by the scrappiest of goals from Eden Hazard, who headed in a rebounded penalty in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.

Michy BatshuayiMichy Batshuayi
Batshuayi was Chelsea’s saviour | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

By this point, Chelsea had a habit of taking a year off after their success. 2015/16 was bad, but 2016/17 was one for the history books.

Antonio Conte and his 3-4-3 took England by storm, and he lifted the Premier League title in his first season when Michy Batshuayi fired home a late winner against West Bromwich Albion.

Antonio ConteAntonio Conte
Conte led Chelsea a huge victory | Power Sport Images/Getty Images

A result that didn’t end up meaning much, but you won’t find many Chelsea fans who would disagree with the idea that this 2-1 win over Atletico Madrid was one of the finest team performances in years.

The Blues became the first English side to beat Atletico on home turf, and things were again decided by Batshuayi, whose 94th-minute winner ensured his name will never be forgotten at the Bridge.

Eden HazardEden Hazard
Hazard led Chelsea to one last trophy | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Now in the turbulent era of Maurizio Sarri. Chelsea blew hot and cold under the Italian, but they were on fire when they met Arsenal in the Europa League final.

In what would be Sarri and Hazard’s final games for the club, Olivier Giroud, Pedro and a double from Hazard fired the Blues to a comfortable 4-1 win, ensuring both left on a high.

What a game.

Champions League finalists Ajax had a 3-1 lead at half-time and added a fourth after 55 minutes, but that’s when the fun got started. Cesar Azpilicueta pulled one back, and Chelsea’s momentum only grew when Ajax had two centre-backs sent off within seconds of one another.

Jorginho netted a penalty and Reece James popped up with an electric equaliser, in what could well be the most exciting game we’ve seen from Frank Lampard’s Chelsea.

For more from ​Tom Gott, follow him on ​Twitter!

Let’